Good evening sports fans - I'm normally a pretty quiet and reserved guy, but the boys have asked me to contribute to the Dorade blog, so I'm going to give it a shot.
I'll start with the facts:
We are approximately 180 nautical miles from the finish at the Lizard. Dorade time is 1630 EST. Our primary competition for longer than I care to contemplate has been Carina and Scarlet Oyster; both very well sailed boats. At the moment Scarlet Oyster has about 20 nautical miles to go, which should have them finishing within the next three hours; when they do we'll have a benchmark time and know exactly when we have to finish to preserve our second-place standing in the class.
My grade school math skills, tell me that no matter what we do it will be tight; we have 20 knots of wind from the southwest and are sailing at just over eight knots. The latest weather files have us in breeze throughout the night, and diminishing as we approach the coast. Depending on tidal currents, it appears it's going to come down to 3,000 nautical miles of racing to be decided within an hour or so. Our estimated finish time should be around 1400 EST if everything comes together. Let the games begin!
Now for the amusement:
It's been two weeks since we departed Newport, but it seems like a month has gone by. We have gone through several heavy air periods that truly tested both the boat and the crew. We've all lost count of the number of times we've had to reef and un-reef, but I'm sure it's north of 30.
We have changed all the other sails as well to suit the variable conditions; we currently have five sails flying (A4 spinnaker, spinnaker staysail, full main, mizzen spinnaker, and reefed mizzen). With only two people on deck during a normal watch there is a whole lot to look after. With the conditions changing constantly, it's a matter of getting bodies out of the bunks and up on deck to make it all happen. Sleep is a rare commodity, something to be cherished looking forward.
We have an electrical system on board that has a setting called "maximum luxury mode" and I'm not really sure what that means. We have seven people in soaking-wet foul weather gear hopping into five saturated bunks. We've run out of our fresh food (prepared by Kerry Clougher) and are well into the freeze dry rations. The rocking and rolling of the boat through the waves compounds our normal daily functions. We've had only about 12 hours in total of smooth water the entire trip; outside of that, it's been a series of "hold on and hang tight" moments as we bash our way to the finish. This is somewhat of an irony, because right when we finish the Transatlantic Race we initiate a coastal race from the Lizard to Cowes, Isle of Wight. Talk about adding insult to injury; we should have something called "austerity mode".
Anyway, things are going about as well as they could be here on Dorade. We are all looking forward to finishing and re-finishing in Cowes. Stay tuned for more reports as we approach the coast.