Monster Project

Tom Robinson-Volvo 70 Monster Project

Date: 19/10/13
Time: 15:00
Location: 36.22.24N 14.52.98E

So the race has begun and we are now heading towards Sicily at speeds around 12-14 knots under Code 0 with a TWA of 100. We pushed our way through the fleet of smaller boats relatively quicker after rounding the second Rolex buoy and holding a similar pace to the 2 IMOCA 60’s. We’re probably pushing how high we can go with the Code 0 for the wind strength we have, however we feel the need to put the hammer down early on and make as much ground as we can under these idyllic reaching conditions. This weather and Angle isn’t going to stay with us as long as we’d desire eventually getting lighter and turning into a run once we’ve passed the first cape off of Sicily.

Our start was pretty conservative, A time on distance run in at the starboard end under Code 0. We were trying to keep as much height to windward and keep close to the southern side of the break water so that we wouldn’t have to think about tacking to get through the small opening to get to the first Rolex buoy. We’d observed some of the earlier starts having to do this and we are never keen on trying to do quick short manoeuvres within Grand Harbour in a boat designed to do long legs offshore.

The Mini Maxis are still in sight, about 3.5 miles ahead, we’re impressed at their speed for this reach angle. IMOCA 60 ‘GAES’ is almost within touching distance. The Class 40 ‘Fulcrum2’ half a mile to leeward  ETA Capo Passero is around 5PM

We’ve had two minor snags so far; The first is a fracture / break in our top mainsail batten noticed just as we hoisted our mainsail. Although this won’t hamper our performance it does make the leach look a bit ugly. This batten basically holds the square top of the sail up and out. There wasn’t much we could do about it before starting so have decided to leave it in place.

The second;  A release valve for our starboard keel ram was very slightly engaged allowing the ram to ‘free flow’ and therefore putting the entire load of the keel onto the port keel ram. This resulted in a small leak of hydraulic fluid from the port ram under its load and this ‘bleed’. This allowed the keel to drop down from its normal 40 degree position by somewhere in the region of 10 degrees over about 1 hour since the rounding the second Rolex buoy. This impacted our performance slightly, maybe letting the trailing IMOCA 60 pull up level with us but after a quick clean-up and a top up of the hydraulic fluid we’re back at 40 degrees and pushing hard to claw back some ground.

We’ve decided on a 4.4.4.6.6 rolling watch system starting at 6PM this evening. This has shorter watches at night and longer ones during the day to allow more time to rest and a rotation of sailing at certain times of the day.

For myself personally, I’ve already been forced to open my “Sunday Morale Bag” of fruit juices and sugary sweets to try and recover from a lack of sleep due to late night and early morning boat preparation. Not ideal the night before an offshore!

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