BLOG LEG 6
Like in all previous legs, the finish is going to be nail biting and I don’t think there will be more than 10 minutes difference between the first four boats on the finish line.
“We enjoyed another great sunset – it had been a while since the last time we saw one like that. Skies were clear and the sun was painting everything in pink and orange”
Our spirits are high and we’re looking forward to this leg’s closing day.
Stay Focus, Stay Fast “MAPFRE”.
Jean Luc constantly updates the waypoints and the boat is in “full speed mode.” The noise of the sheets against the winches makes it almost impossible to sleep inside the boat.
We are into our last sprint to Newport, which is less than 1,000 miles away. Yesterday the positions changed a bit and our close fight with Alvimedica put us where we are now.
We are back in the pack and we want to win. Just 4 days left until Newport, and the tiniest mistake can cost you the leg. Focusing is key now.
Last time this exact same crew sailed together, we made it first to New Zealand.
Jean Luc says that we should “try to be first [he laughs], and that in the next 24 hours we’ll cross an area of squalls while sailing upwind. Then there’s a high pressure, which we’ll cross in a fast reach followed by a bit of downwind. The arrival will be in light winds and that might cause a compression – that’s interesting for us. Now we need to focus in generating a lateral split which helps us reach the front”.
The seaweed is turning into a nightmare again and we breach once every 10 minutes. It’s really frustrating: you feel that the boat isn’t going fast, it’s not at 100%, and you stop focusing on trimming, worrying that the weed is causing us to sail one or two knots slower.
We are fighting with seaweed, surfing waves and sailing with trade winds of 20-22 knots.
“Every time we stop, the others take more and more miles from us, and this is frustrating.”
You have to be really careful with the seaweed for it tangles on the leeward rudder and makes you immediately lose control. We’ve had a couple of those already
“We are fast and wet. Sometimes the conditions are magical; sometimes we’re covered with water and seaweed.”
“Before midday I was cleaning the food cooler I use to cook at the stern when Rafa suddenly changed direction to avoid some seaweed. This made me lose control and the cooler slipped out of my hands as I shouted NOOOOOOOO!!!”
Yesterday we finally entered a windier system. After exiting the Doldrums, we’ve sailed in gusts up to 30 knots under black clouds loaded with water.
Jean-Luc told us the clouds 80 miles away indicated the start of the Doldrums. We were sailing in such nice wind that when we arrived to the clouds they were exactly like the ones in the satellite picture.
There’re loads of seaweed, it’s unbelievable. They creep up and remain hanging from the lifelines. “They look like lettuces. Today we’ll have freeze-dried food and salad for dinner”, says Carlos
We need to go where we want to go, without other teams putting pressure on us.
We’ve been the whole morning and afternoon fighting our rivals on board Team Brunel. We sail really close to each other.
We have perfect weather conditions with almost 14 knots and fairly dry winds that make life onboard pretty enjoyable
It was pretty funny to see how, gradually, Brunel approached from the horizon. During the night they overtook our boat. Something similar happened with the girls, who maintained their course overnight and then crossed our stern.
After several hours looking for the shift, we finally found it. It feels good to know that we won’t have to tack again in six days time. For now we’ll just have to sail to the north of Brazil and then cross the Equator.
“Ñeti’s fully recovered and the anti-inflammatories worked really quickly, he needs to rest and load up on energy. Xabi covered for him and he’s now doing his Skipper watches again”
From 20:30 UTC we were expecting a 50º shift and a tack with it which would put us heading NW. But it’s 06:00 UTC now and nothing’s happened, although we found ourselves doing one tack after the other.
Today we haven’t been sailing particulary fast but in comparison with the rest of the fleet, we’ve done all right.
From the beginning Iker said, “the sails must be looked after as if they were our girlfriends, they are the boat’s engine.”
Finally, this looks like an F1 race. We’ve been tight reaching for the last 20 hours, and the boats have started crossing, not at high speeds really, but watching how each of them progresses is nevertheless spectacular.
Talking with Bochecha, relaxed after the great farewell in Itajaí, he mentioned this part of the race is like an F1 bend where the car goes at the limit and the weight of the pilot becomes critical.
Together without losing a mile. The position reports are really surprising. Differences in speed are as little as 0.1 to 0.2 knots, impressive. We’ve been sailing for around 60 hours with all boats in sight.
Things haven’t changed much since the start. The fleet sails together without major changes to it. Some sail changes but nothing out of the usual.
The second night onboard MAFPRE went really well. The guys are in really good spirits and focused. Adaptating through the night wasn’t as bad as usual for since the start we’ve only sailed a straight line. Last night was overcast and without stars, and we sailed upwind.
We switched to offshore mode and the watches got started. Sometimes at the start of a leg the whole crew remains active until late in the night, but yesterday 2 hours into the leg we realized we were ready, and stuck to the watches.
We were sailing on port tack heading Northeast towards the trade winds. The skies were clear and we could still see the lights of Brazil and a couple of fishing boats.
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