So, we’re sailing along quite happily under spinnaker in around 16 knots of wind from around north west. Down below, there is a consistent whoosh of water against the hull. Suddenly, everything goes quiet. Moments later, I hear sails flapping and very shortly afterwards a call from on deck for a few more people. We have hit a transition zone between the weather we had been sailing in previously and that which, we hope, could see us most of the way to the finish.
The wind has shifted from north west to north east, and suddenly we need a jib to go upwind. Luckily, we’d been expecting this transition for a while (see blog post from last night, though the weather has changed a bit from the forecast and it is no longer a ridge we are tackling) so the required sail is already on deck and pretty much ready to go.
The manoeuvre still takes five of us –two who’d been on watch, plus three summoned from dozing below who emerge still donning clothing. Sam gets the jib ready, Tom Dawson and myself drop the spinnaker, Ned controls the halyards whilst Tom Smedley continues to steer. The manoeuvre goes incredibly smoothly, especially considering several people were so recently asleep.
We are soon sailing again, upwind this time, working hard to get the boat moving again in the extremely light north easterly winds. The main sail is set with the traveller right up the track to keep the boom on the centreline of the boat, with the mainsheet eased to put some twist into the top of the sail. The jib is set deep and twisted to give us the power required to build speed and punch through the choppy waves. After a painful half hour or so doing less than 4 knots, the wind starts to build again and, writing this, I can again hear the reassuring whooshing of water down the side of the boat.
When did this happen? Well, I’m afraid I can’t tell you that, as that might be seen by the other boats close behind us and given them an advantage in tackling this key transition!