Second place throught the Celox scoring gate

Marco at the conThe last few days have been, as predicted, a drag race towards the
north-east corner of Brasil, all tactical decision had been played out
earlier around the tricky corner near Rio de Janeiro where the wind tends
to be always on the nose and there is a nasty counter current. Since then
we’ve proceeded in a near perfect straight line to this next corner where
we’ll all “turn left” towards Charleston. The Celox virtual scoring gate
is placed on this turning point which marks the beginning of the next
phase of the race and we’re quite pleased to be crossing in second place
after the boys on Cessna who unfortunately have slipped from our reach and
are further ahead. We’ve however succeeded in our intermediate goal of
being first of the three first generation Akilarias in the race and kept
the Dutch and South african teams behind us.

Getting here has been a little more involved than we had anticipated, the
trade winds motorway was definitely not the smooth ride we expected. Every
afternoon the sky would swell with clouds forming out of the damp hot air,
each cloud approaching would bring stronger winds at first but a wind hole
behind it with significant wind shifts making for tricky sail changes. We
kept swapping between our furling solent and our furling gennaker.
Normally when the gennaker is not in use it is taken down to avoid the
risk of it coming unfurled and damaged but we figured we needed to be
agile and in the ever changing conditions so we kept it up all the time
and were able to rapidly go from one head sail to the other and keep
creeping forward during the phases of variable winds and until the air
cleared out again giving again regular winds. Perhaps it has nothing to do
with skill and we were just luckier than our followers in finding fewer
“potholes” along our road and are very happy with the advantage of nearly
100 miles we were able to accumulate in this stretch of water over our
sparring partners on Phesheya.

Last night we brought out our masthead spinnaker which has a beautiful cut
and can be sailed at a very hot angle, I am so glad we repaired it in
Punta del Este, it’s such a beautiful sail which kept us going very nicely
all day. I believe we’re the only boat in the race that is still sailing
with the same 9 sails we set off with in Palma, apart from a few
inevitable accidents with the spinnakers subsequently repaired along the
way, the sail choice has been perfect, we had very reliable sails in the
strong winds and some killer sails for the light airs, I really have to
thank Roberto Westermann, personal friend and sailmaker at Di-Tech in
Lavagna, Italy, who put so much thought into this selection building a top
choice of sails.

As we turned the corner the ever adverse current of last week has given
way to a pleasantly favourable current adding over half a knot to our
speed since a few hours ago, i think we’re on the edges of the Guyana
current which should help us on our way to Charleston giving back some of
the miles stolen by the Brasil current.

Life on board, as a consequence of the recent weather pattern, has gone
daily from tedious to fastidious – tedious in the regular winds and
extremely frustrating during the tricky rain clouds wind shifts. The heat
is increasing and i found myself steering in my pants and t-shirt during
the rain showers, the air cools down somewhat and after a while exposed to
wind and rain can experience a glimpse of that feeling of “cold” that you
keep dreaming of the rest of the time, my feet are swelling as a result of
the heat, i had experienced the same problem during leg one but luckily
this time it does not seem to be nearly as bad. When i left Punta del Este
my abdominal area was also quite swallen, I feared a problem with water
retention but after a consultation with my doctor he confirmed it was a
case of beer, burger and pizza retention which should be cured by the far
less appealing freeze dried food diet of recent.

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