Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bashing Upwind

Hard to believe it's the middle of June. I'm freezing. But hey, look at the bright side: there are no icebergs on the race course (http://weather.noaa.gov/pub/fax/PIEA88.gif) so we lucked out there.

I'm battling my way up to the Grand Banks and where the race course funnel begins. To the north we have Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and to the south we have the gulf stream where the current is flowing strong to the east and makes no sense for us to venture down there. At its narrowest point down toward the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia, the course is only about 130 miles wide so being on the favored tack of any new headwind could bring some solid gains.

The forecast for today was 15 on the nose, I've got 30. I was on a starboard tack for a while but the foul current was really getting to me. I don't mind going nowhere, I'd just like to do it fast, so now I'm on port, with the current, into the wind, with enormously steep, short period waves. This boat has a very flat bottom and there's not much weight in the bow so these conditions are really horrible on the boat. Unbelievable pounding after pounding as I beat into these monsters. It's amazing the boat can hold
together as the shock loads spike through the roof on each crash landing, about one every 4-5 seconds. I put what little movable ballast I have up in the v-berth like a big bag of freeze dried food, the wet spinnakers, some other sails and some bottled water but that's probably not enough to do anything significant. I wish I had a water ballast tank up there to ease Jeroboam's pain.

I'm not particularly excited about my positioning right now. There's another system on the way that I'd like to be north of and, as has been the case too many times this race, I'm fighting to get up there. The northerly track that PtoC and Spirit took certainly has had its benefits.

The only slim benefit I can see to staying south is what's in store for them on Friday and Saturday, if the forecast even holds that long. They'll likely ride this downwind period between Sable Island and Nova Scotia but when the breeze swings around into their face Friday morning, they'll have a tough beat down the Canadian Maritimes. Staying to the south gives me some more room to play that 20-25 knot headwind on Friday. Like I said, a slim benefit, and who knows what changes to the forecast are in store for us - Friday's a long way off. Anyway, I'm not even sure if I'll be south myself. That downwind sleigh ride to the north of this next system is too good not to try for and try I will.

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