Yesterday’s rush with the big fractional gennaker was amazing. We hit 27.5 knots of boat speed on 29 knots of wind. For me, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Those speeds may be natural for Armel Le Cléac’h or Alex Thomson at the front of the fleet, but a lot less so for me. So before dark, I rolled up that sail and rolled out the smaller staysail, at about 25% of the area. We kept the 2 reefs in the mainsail. The forecast was for the wind to go to 30 through the night.
We proved the concept of the ‘power curve’, whereby if you want to go 10% faster, you need to apply much more than 10% extra power. With the staysail, we hit 26.2 knots on 27 knots of wind. So all of that extra power from the fractional gennaker only produced another knot of boat speed. Of course these comparisons are approximate, but the point is there. If the last .5 knots of boat speed is not so relevant (we are not vying for the podium) then one can greatly reduce the loads on the boat by backing off in the square footage of the sails.
We had an interesting encounter last night with Enda O’Coineen, the Irish skipper. After dark, the VHF radio (for short range communications) sprang to life, ‘Great American IV, Great American IV, this is Kilcullen Voyager, Kilcullen Voyager, come in please’. I answered, and over the next 4 or 5 hours, we were in touch either through VHF or satellite phone. Enda had headed north after the big depression to try to fix his computer. When the position reports showed that he was heading back to rejoin the fleet, I thought that meant that he had done so. But no unfortunately, he was still working off GPS and paper charts. His AIS was not functioning (which will show his position on my computer screen), and his radar was gone from earlier in the race. He had received permission from Race Management to get weather information from shore by satellite phone, and they had let him know he was overtaking us and we were nearby.
So he told me his position, and I put it in my computer, and could see that he was 11 miles behind and to the West Northwest. A couple of hours later, we did this again, and he had crossed our wake and was only 5 miles behind. After much searching, I finally saw his masthead light. He never saw ours. He didn’t show up on our radar because he was so directly in our wake that the radar, that is on the front of the mast, couldn’t see him through the mast. He was going very fast (we were too!) with one reef in the mainsail (we had 2) because he had a problem with his 2nd and 3rd reef lines in the boom, and could not reduce the mainsail.
Also, he had his solent (J2) bigger than our staysail (J3). So he was flying and overtaking but couldn’t see anything that might be in his path. Over the next hours I received another position report from race management and could see that he had passed us to the south about 5 miles away. Enda has been very savvy about making his repairs and I have confidence he will be able to do so again. In the meantime, It was nice to hear his voice, and to try to help talk through at least the AIS issue. Good luck Enda!
44° 14’S x 110° 16’E
True Wind Speed
True Wind Direction
2 reefs in mainsail, staysail
55°F / 12.7°C cabin cockpit
54.6°F / 12.5°C
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