Ross here this time, thought I should write something at last! Kirsty has been doing a fantastic job on her blogs, mine may not be quite as well written apologies in advance!
As I sit at the nav station (AKA my play station, the guys on deck are still pushing it, though as the breeze has headed we are on our magic multi purpose furling genoa, still we just topped out at 17.8kn so not exactly slow. This genoa has been a great asset on this race, we have used it as an upwind genoa (what it was made for), a jib top reacher (by raising its tack a metre), a wind seeker (by part furling), a VMG highwind runner (poled out), a higher wind runner (part rolled on pole), a spin staysail (half furled), and a heavy weather upwind jib (part furled). As it is a woven spectra cloth it is also pretty well bullet proof too! Another great sail from the team at banks sails UK! Not having 7 jibs and genoas lying around the boat is a massive bonus, and weight saving as they would all be pretty wet by now!
This race has been everything we could have hoped for with a wide range of conditions to test every point of sail and anything from 0-40knots of wind (tho thankfully we have avoided too much time at the extremes of that range). It has been a great navigational routing challenge too, I have been out smarted on a few occasions by the talented navigators on Carina, Dorade and Mariette! There have been a couple of occasions where our strategies have given us an edge too I am pleased to report!
Mariette has proved a little too hard to hang on to in these downwind reaching conditions and has put her 140 odd feet and 100 years to great advantage, compounding this is that they are sailing the doors of the old girl too, clocking well over 15kn on the tracker a few times! They have done a great job playing to their strengths with some smart routing.
Dorade at a mere 85years old has proved exceptionally fast, never really putting a foot wrong, both her and Carina seemed to have better intel on the Gulf Stream than us it seems that there is some black magic beyond the rtofs grib data we are using, by finally finding the best current (12hrs after the others did) we knocked out a 277mile noon to noon run, that's over 11.5kn average speed, certainly a new record for the big red bus!
Carina has been sailing a tremendous race too, we match raced them round the entire fastnet 2011 course, and vowed to try our uppermost to match her on handicap in this somewhat longer test, it seems in the heavy surfing conditions we can edge away from them, but the closeness on handicap has been astonishingly close, the last few days we have spent hours on end separated by 0.01%, based on VMG made good from start, as we are on the same line this is a good measure of actual performance, we sailed just 200m across her transom on the 3rd of July, and had a quick chat on VHF, we were invited to their 4th of July party! but sadly were were a few miles ahead by then! These guys a great gentlemen on the water too, as born out in the 2011 Fastnet when another yacht randomly tried to protest us by VHF for allegedly missing a mark, Carina was well placed to see us round it correctly and immediately called on VHF to offer themselves as our witness, so we not need worry ourselves about the protest, they even waved us across their bow on the finish line (tho they had won our class comfortably by then!)
As the race progresses we are developing more strong drivers and trimmers, so consequently have been flying kites in the pitch dark in upto 30knots of wind, some pretty exciting surfing with bright green phosphorescent spray either side dazzling us in the otherwise very dark sky.
Our current routing has us finishing Monday early hours, and as each grib is received our final route in looks straighter and straighter, with a 4 mile long finishing line the outcome between ourselves and Carina could easily be dictated by which end of the line we choose! (let alone a tide gate...)
All for now from the good ship Scarlet, breeze is easing, probably time to stick another chute up!