As we are about to clock 4 full days of race, we feel at last alive again ! Maybe we will regret it tomorrow when the gale force winds are due to hit us but for the time being we saw with great relief the wind finally pick up as expected (more or less …) this morning.
We sailed past Pantelleria quite painfully during the night. We gave it a very wide berth to avoid the wind shadow we expected particularly developed due to heavy and cold air on the island in the middle of the night. This strategy worked well already two days ago in the lee of the Aeolian Islands. It was once more pretty nerve-wracking but did allow us again to catch up with our dearest competitors the other J- Boats Artie, Fastwave and Juno.
The Italian Coast Guards have been transmitting Gale warnings since yesterday … we were hoping to catch the fore-runners of the stronger wind system soon after rounding the western end of Sicily and get back to Malta in just a few long surfs (so to speak …). This is also what the weather files were initially showing. But as usual they proved inaccurate in the details and requiring a good deal of interpretation to match them against the observed weather. Apart from a few gusts due to a distant thunderstorm as we crossed the Castellammare Gulf the weather remained excruciatingly light.
This being said, more cloudy conditions started to settle from yesterday as we rounded the Egadi Islands and the atmospheric pressure has been going down slowly but surely since Monday. The pressure has just started rising again this morning around 9am, as we crossed just another lull followed by a textbook 90 degrees anticlockwise rotation of the wind, now WSW 10 to 12 knots. So we are now expecting the wind to progressively return to NNW and gather strength up to 20-25 nds by the end of the day (with more to come tomorrow …).
We still have our light spinnaker up and are now exceeding 9 knots at times. There are now 50 miles left to Lampedusa which we should reach before sunset. This being said we are enjoying the dry conditions and the temperature is very nice, even at night. A light vest is enough for the night and none of us had to wear their body warmers yet. The sea state has also remained very pleasant all through except for a short sea from the South that shake our spinnaker badly yesterday after the Egadi Islands.
The lyophilised meals are finally OK … barely so for our French palates not so used to this kind of fast food. It is indeed the first race where we did not prepare our freshly cooked and vacuum packed menus. Anyway, we are glad we left Malta with our holds full of these and also with full water tanks ! We could even allow short fresh water showers ! We also applied the “dry race” rule which I have just decided to repell … next time I will allow some measured rounds of wine, beer or whisky – provided all the crew commits to behaving !
We have managed to pass the J111 Fastwave during the night but are struggling to increase our lead. And with the J122 Artie, overall winner of last years’ edition, we could come within not more than a mile several times, but soon to loose ground again very systematically. The speed of these two boats is just impressive.
From the crew of JIVARO, more upbeat than ever !