Finally, we’re rounding the corner! Off the north western tip of Sicily and about to head south towards the coast of Africa. What a day it’s been, full of all the vagaries that we have come to expect from this race. The early morning watch was a complete blast as we finally managed to put Stromboli behind us, reaching under the kites and making the most of the wind that was available to us. Only for that falsest of friends, the windhole, to reappear…
Most of the day has been spent yet again eeking out every tenth of a knot of boat speed from the 2-4 knots of wind available to us. Constant trimming and careful helming have been our watchwords as we sought to make progress towards our current position. Despite the lack of wind it’s been a beautiful day – the antithesis of much of the offshore racing that we are used to. Bright blue seas under a gentle sun – at times it has felt more like a cruise than a race. Although that should not suggest that we haven’t been taking it seriously!
Even Pedro began to wax lyrical about how the sea was our desert and the clouds our oasis, as we looked to each cloud as a potential source of wind…. only to find that yet again it proved to be a mirage and our hopes were dashed. Even so, our progress has been steady and our efforts are paying off as we believe that we remain well positioned in the fleet.
In typical fashion we have gained some miles then seen them eaten away as we lose wind and others gain miles as they find the zephyrs that we have lost. It’s always heartening though to be surrounded by boats that are rated higher than we are. Some of our closest competitors are sailing a very good race and they have become our benchmark, a measure of our relative progress. So far, we are comfortable with how we measure up. Let’s hope we can keep it up!
As we round Capo St Vito, this turning mark at the top of Sicily, we hope that we have left the lightest of the winds behind us and that we will finally start to make better progress towards that elusive finishing line. The lightning flashes, which are accompanying our rounding, certainly suggest that this might be so! Whilst the forecasts are unrealiable for the next few days, we are hoping for 3-15 knots, which will be a true feast of high wind sailing in comparison to what has gone before!! And, as we have only now passed the halfway point, almost 3.5 days after we left Grand Harbour, Valletta, we certainly hope that we are more than halfway through in terms of time!
As I sign off on this blog, it’s worth saying just how cohesive this Quokka crew is. I don’t think that I have raced with such a great bunch of people, whose spirits remain so high in all conditions. It’s making this race such a real pleasure. It’s also testament to all involved that we remain near the front of the fleet, despite never having all sailed together before our arrival in Malta. However we do, this Rolex Middle Sea Race will rank high in my memories of good, fun sailing!