This is James Hardiman's latest update from somewhere in the Atlantic aboard Fluke-iGOSKi as he takes part in the AZAB yacht race for Sail4Cancer.
As this was written they were sitting 15th overall, and had maintained their 6th in class, a really impressive effort from a relatively inexperienced Ocean racing crew. They were expected to make the Finish line in the early hours of the 29th - so by the time you read this James could already be on dry land!
"Overall summary is that the sun is out, we are 420 miles west of Brest (no pun intended) and boat is going well with no major problems yet, touchwood, (we sailors are a superstitious bunch) - and certainly no probs such as we had on the outward leg to the Azores. However, we still have a leaky water tank, so no water on board, except bottled, making basic hygiene a toughy! We are completely exhausted - managing 2-3 hours sleep each night. It’s not easy sleeping on board a rolling, banging boat doing 10 kts much of the time - which is fast for us.
Day 1 - Start. Boat is generally going well since leaving Ponta del Garda after a very bad start. We had reaching sails up for a windward start in strong winds and so were way back in the pack.
However ‘Fluke - iGOSKi’ quickly regained her composure and we had a good fight with some of our class equals (‘Lady First’, ‘Fan Fan’ and ‘Comedy of Errors’) along the back of the island where the wind gusted and we had lots of mini broaches (for non sailors - this is where the boat skews out of control)! We then got a good lead (we go well on gusty winds when we are no broaching) and caught up the class in front, passing some of them in the evening's lighter going air to take a great overall position for a short while (so I’m told via Sat phone).
Day 2-3: Had two good days of Spinnaker runs in 22kts, lots of surfing and high boat speeds, a couple of broaches but overall covered quite some miles and, I was told by Sat phone that we were well positioned on the leader board. Not that it means much so early on when boats go in all directions in search of depressions, but it was a good boost to hear. So having made good ground on our chosen course - just west of the Rhumb line (an imaginary straight line from the start to finish lines, we then headed North a 2nd time to avoid some wind holes (no wind) lurking around Biscay. Heading Nor West when home is Nor East is hard to do in the search for wind, especially when it’s all estimated from weather data files you get on board (via Sat phone) and interpret yourself - using your own inexperienced methods!
During the night on day 3 we shredded the No.1 Genoa and spent all of Friday hand stitching a 3 metre tear (no joke!), and two smaller ones. Sorry Pete (at Sailtech), I've killed a brand new Carbon-Kevlar racing sail!
Day 4: We must have slipped quite a lot now because the wind has been light for the last day, and most class 4 and the best class 3 (our class) boats have gone more nor-west than us - where the wind is best. They have had 20kts all day yesterday when we had 14 kts at best. We are bound to have lost a lot of miles with that.
Day 5: Sun is shining and all OK thus far. Only doing 6 kts and wondering if everyone else is screaming past us in 15kts Nor West of us. Got a nasty beat ahead to look forward to in strongish winds. (for non sailors - this is sailing into the wind, and means an angle of 45 degrees and lots of banging, possible breakages, even less sleep and general nausea all day long). Oh well, hopefully we will have pasties and a level bed to look fwd to on arrival in Falmouth, whenever that may be..."
We'd like to congratulate James on what has clearly been a great test - and thanks for keeping us in the loop!
It's not too late to make a donation to Sail4Cancer - you can make a donation and send James a message of support here.
Sail 4 Cancer is a charity based organisation that aims to improve the quality of life for individuals and their families who have been affected by cancer. The charity offers a variety of sailing experiences for individuals and their families affected by cancer, the recently bereaved and carers thereby giving them the opportunity to switch off from the realities of everyday life.
Sail 4 Cancer also awards grants for the provision of equipment within cancer wards and hospices.