As we tick off the miles towards Hawaii and shed the layers of foul weather gear, the team is really getting stronger. I knew from the outset that our performance in the event would largely depend on downwind driving. It’s pretty tough to get good at offshore downwind driving except by doing it, and the group here has been racking up the experience, and it shows.
The toughest thing so far has actually been the nighttime cloud cover. We have a nice full moon, but it isn’t able to get thru the thick clouds, so the evenings are extremely dark. Driving with the spin up in total darkness has forced us to drop the kite one evening, and last night we had our first casualty we blew up a a chute at about 11PM. It’s way too early in the race to be losing sails, and I don’t think I have enough tape and thread to get this one back together! So we learn from our mistakes and go on.
(ed. note: J/World’s offshore racing programs enable participants to participate fully in the experience. All are expected to drive their fair share. While most are not experienced downwind drivers at the start of the race, they are by the time they get to Hawaii!)
We’ll have to throttle back a bit more in the evenings, but it’s better than taking ourselves out of the race. And right now it looks like the conditions might actually cooperate, keeping things in the sub 15 knot range while our gang gains experience and we look for moonbeams to guide us!
So with the mishaps, we have give up some tough miles to a couple of boats in our fleet. Sleeping Dragon, the Hobie 33 sailed by a couple of our good friends, has just launched out in front. Right there with them are the two Synergy 1000s. We have all pushed south, expecting the Pacific High to move towards us over this weekend and early next week, lightening the breezes along the shorter, northern Great Circle route. Paul Cayard passed us slightly to the north this morning, so we are in good company. We are hoping that as the winds lighten a bit, some of the smaller/lighter surf machines might stick to the water a bit more, and we can put out waterline to work for us and maybe reel in some miles on our class leaders…
The J World Team