An update from our Navigator Luke.
So, we've now crossed the all-important milestone (well, perhaps pyschologically at least) of under 1000 miles to go with. As I sit at the chart table our Adrena navigation software is reading 985 miles to go. Whilst it would be tempting to start thinking 'we're nearly there, in actual fact we still have more than one and a half times the distance of the notorious Fastnet Race still to sail.
The big boats, who started a few days after us, had fast sailing conditions for most of their trip, and it looks like they will dominate the overall results. We are in a very tight battle with a number of other boats - Jazz, Varuna and Shakti in particular - who started at the same time as us for the next places, with our corrected average speeds (after applying IRC ratings) all being with 0.1 or 0.2 of a knot of boat speed. All these boats are nearby and set up in a line abreast spread roughly north west to south east. The next thing we are likely to have to tackle is a band of lighter winds overnight in the form of a developing high pressure ridge, which will be across the course roughly perpendicular to all our tracks to the finish. It remains to be seen who has chosen the right line to get through this the best.
After a couple of tough days sailing downwind in conditions which touched galeforce at times, we are now sailing on a tight spinnaker reach in more moderate conditions of 16-20 knots. This is still conditions in which Concise 2 revels, although we are not looking forward to the generally lighter conditions forecast between now and the finish.
We have taken the opportunity presented by the more moderate conditions to have a bit of a tidy up of both the boat and ourselves. The inside of the boat is now merely damp rather than dripping wet, and scented disinfectant spray used to try to clean/mask the odours of 6 men spending 8 days on a 40’ yacht. The crew have been breaking out dry thermal base layers, which I can tell you makes a huge difference to your comfort.
Being a relatively young and fit crew, we are hoping that our energy levels might be higher than some other boats. This is helped by the fact that Concise is perhaps more suited to this sort of sailing than others in the fleet and although they have been very full on, that the last few days of hard downwind sailing might have taken their toll on others. For example, because Concise is water-ballasted, we do not need half the crew sitting on the side of the boat hiking to provide stability – as we have this in the form of 750 litres of sea water in tanks in the side of the boat!
Morale on board remains high, with the crew continuing to work the boat hard towards the finish, now just 973 miles away (which shows how slow it is to write on a moving boat after 8 days of limited sleep!)