photo: Amory Ross | Team Alvimedica
Today’s blog prep was a little unorthodox; usually there is none. But while I was sitting on the bow in the most monotonous sailing we’ve done to date I was worried I’d have nothing to write about. So I began writing. Simple observations from some simple sailing:
1) The sun is extremely hot. (Later addition: the rain is extremely cold)
2) I think my shoulders are sunburned.
3) Alberto’s definitely are!
4) Sargassum is still, after all this time, a total nuisance. I can’t believe how much of it is floating around out here, and how easily it adheres to the appendages of our boat. Nick’s about to jump in for a final ‘Bill of Clean Bottom’ before we pick up speed tonight, after which any weed-clearing measures would be considerably more costly.
5) We have less than 1,000 miles to Newport and excitement is growing quickly. The last I was home was July of 2014 and I can’t wait to see Castle Hill lighthouse, the dock at Fort Adams, and all of our friends and family waiting on it. Everyone is really excited to arrive somewhere so passionate for the Race and we’re all looking forward to making the most of our short week there.
6) Full moon sailing is awesome. It’s so bright at night that you can see the sails and waves just as well as you can during the day. No strobes or headlamps (later insert: + shoes and shirts) required on deck, and the nights are about as pleasant as they can be. Some glorious, idyllic sailing conditions—without anything in the way of action to break it all up!
7) Where’s the wildlife?? We’ve seen nothing but flying fish since we left Brazil. Mayyybe two dolphin that ran from us as like we reeked of offshore sailors… Maybe things will change near the Gulf Stream?
8) MAPFRE is fast. Slightly faster than us on average today and they’re sailing through to leeward. Maybe more wind to the north. Brunel is fast too, they’re no longer on AIS. Everyone’s thinking about the importance of overall points. Who we need to beat and who we want to beat whom. Distracting? or wise?
9) Sports. One of the many sacrifices you make to doing this race is missing all the live sports. We kind of live for it. With no TV and no Internet we rely on emails from brothers, fathers, and a once-daily update to the fleet-wide BoatNet service. It is text only. In the last 48 hours we’ve missed (in no particular order of significance): The NFL Draft. NY Yankees / Boston Red Sox baseball and A-Rod’s 660th home run. Playoff Hockey (God’s gift to the world), and a NY Rangers Saturday matinee win in Game 2. The Kentucky Derby. Manny Pacquiao v. Floyd Mayweather—so called “Fight of the Century.” NBA playoffs. Dale Jr.’s first win of the season at Talladega (finally!), World Match Play Championships in golf, and maybe most heartbreaking of all–the split of Tiger Wodds and Lindsey Vonn. So tough, and so much Sportscenter to catch up on in front of the basement big-screen!
Then the cold front arrived and we sailed in a manic state of frenzy for the next three hours, the string winds and constant rain more than making up for a few days of enjoyable inactivity. It’s like someone held the crimp in the Busy hose and let it all go at once. Now we’re back to some fast upwind sailing, going 18 knots in 16 knots of wind—pointed straight towards the stable. Newport is 930 miles away and with MAPFRE less than a mile ahead and the rest of the fleet within 20, we’re well aware that every position is still in play!