Crew member on SWE1929 SCA
Day and Night
It is 0245 Friday morning in the waters of the Fastnet (south of the Irish
Sea). Libby and Sam are sitting on the floor staring at the navigation
computer, analyzing, waiting to make the call to gybe back across
Alvimedica. The off-watch girls are sleeping in their gear and have thirty
minutes to rest until we gybe back. The girls on deck are in full
concentration mode; they say nothing except for "trim on," "hold," and
"nice numbers. And it has been like this all day and all night as we've
played a game of snakes and ladders with Team Alvimedica.
A few days ago, after an epic start by Team SCA off of Cowes, we sailed at
the back of the Volvo Ocean 65 pack as we raced more of an easterly route
to avoid wind farms. For a few days we watched the rich get richer with
various pressure systems affecting the area for the boats ahead of us.
Today, we closed our 52nm mile gap on Dongfeng, coming within 4nm of the
team yesterday morning and we closed and sealed our 40nm gap on the young
guns on board Team Alvimedica.
Playing catch up has certainly not been easy in the least. As we sailed
down the west coast of Ireland, we've relied on tactics and timing to make
our massive gains and crawl back. Now, as we reach the southern tip of
Ireland we will be on longer gybes until the Scilly Islands.
"Now, it will be about sailing fast and not making mistakes," Libby said
after finishing up a well thought out "surprise" gybe in front of
Alvimedica. (I say surprise because, as a crew, we initially thought our
last gybe was to our lay line and course.) But, as Libby explained, "on
the last gybe we continued to get lifted* as the wind shifted, we saw an
opportunity so we decided to capitalize on it." The gybe was so last
minute that the internal weight was left to shift to windward until after
the gybe and some of the girls were still putting their boots on when they
began to furl the staysail.
This is just one example of what the last twenty four hours has been like;
nearly every waking and sleeping (when you can get some) moment has been
about passing Alvimedica and leaving them well in our trail. A true game
of cat and mouse, snakes and ladders, and a drag race!
As per normal on board Team SCA, timing is everything and only tomorrow
will tell if all our focus, determination, and hard work will pay off!
*A lift is a shift which allows your boat to head up toward the windward
mark more. It "lifts" your course higher.