Det blir mycket spännade att se vilket tempo två man orkar hålla i dessa båtar. Mitt tips är att det kommer att gå ganska fort!
I am sure you have all been holding your breath since our last report from Estrella Damm, wondering if we could get the A5 genneker down in 30 knots of wind when we got to Sardinia. We had a great ride on this leg, 18 to 26 knots of boat speed, and some fantastic surfing. 8 miles from our waypoint we went for the snuffer and to my surprise it actually worked! We packed the kite away, put in a second reef and got ready for the next leg, a beam reach to the west to Menorca. We had covered the last 120 miles in 8 hours, what great sailing…
We jibed just as it was getting dark, onto a fast but extremely wet angle. The waves were constantly breaking over the boat, so it was very difficult to be on deck. All through the night, one of us would basically huddle under the cuddy in the cockpit, or just inside the door, poking your head out every 10 minutes or so, letting the autopilot do the steering. It is the only sane way to sail in these conditions. I can only imagine what it will be like with freezing cold water, or in more changeable conditions that require adjusting the sails. I think I need more clothes.
Despite the discomfort, we had a very quick 140 miles from Sardinia to Menorca, arriving at sunrise. At the waypoint we went on the wind and into the waves, now heading back toward Barcelona on the final leg. The wind was still 22 to 27 knots, with big waves, but now the end was in sight, only 120 miles away. It was very wet sailing, but easier in the daylight. With the Solent and 2 reefs we were going 12 knots on a slightly cracked off course, rapidly eating up the miles toward “home” and dry clothes. We got a little bit lifted which allowed us to go faster, 13 to 16 knots, but still jumping off waves with green water everywhere. The GRIB files were indicating that the breeze would soon die and ultimately shift to the SW, and about 60 miles from Barcelona we started to see this. We shook out the reefs and ultimately put up the code 0 genoa. There was a very uncomfortable left over seaway, but gradually we got lifted and jibed onto port in anticipation of the new SW breeze. There were about 3 hours of very light wind, giving us some time to get the boat tidied up and do a few chores.
Finally the southwester filled and we had a quick reach for the final 40 miles to Barcelona. We arrived at 6 pm local time, completing the 630-mile course in 49 hours. We lowered the sails, picked up 3 guys from our shore team, and headed into the marina. A quick pack up and then warm showers and dinner with vino tinto. It is amazing how salt encrusted you can get after 5 days at sea! I wonder what it will be like for 80 days…
It is fantastic to have completed the 2,800 qualification miles for the Barcelona World Race. We saw an amazing variety of conditions, from 0 to 45 knots; upwind, downwind and reaching. We used every sail on the boat except the storm jib, and tried every possible maneouver at least once (sometimes more successfully than others!). The boat really performed well. For sure we have a long list of items to improve, but all the major elements seem up to the task, and we are gaining confidence in the ability of Estrella Damm to make it around the world. Equally important, Gullermo and I have now sailed 4,000 miles together, and we are learning to work together efficiently. We have some work to do refining our boathandling, but we now know what we have to achieve, and we have enough time to get there. We have a lot of respect for each other and are starting to gel as a team. We look forward to the coming weeks of preparation, and expect to be ready to set off around the planet on November 11.