Cloud spotting and going North

December 17, 2008 @ 21:48:41   Foto Photos by Sergey Bogdanov/Team Russia

Andreas Hanakamp

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Wouter Verbraak Team Russia’s navigator has been speaking about the light wind condition they have experience over the last few days and the unsettled weather systems that lay ahead.

It’s been light, the kind of conditions we saw alot on the last leg, so we have been well trained for that.  What has been a novelty is the upwind battle against the four knots current just south of Sri Lanka.  I was just joking earlier – “hey guys we have positive news, we only have one knot again us at the moment.”

It’s frustrating trying to move the boat forward, but the current not letting you go.  On one of the tacks we did we actually did a full circle and after 1/2 hour ended up in exactly the same position again.  It’s just an uphill battle all the time, it takes its toll for sure.  Luckily now the wind is up again and everyone is keen to get going again.

At the moment we have found the very southerly edge of the NE monsoon, which we are still happy to see.  But tomorrow we have a big disturbance with a cloud band the size of Sri Lanka to deal with giving very squally conditions with winds up to 25 – 30 knot and tons and tons of rain.

We will make preparations for the clouds, make sure all back up sails are ready at the top of the stack.  Then we will get the rain gear on – the down pours are torrential.  It’s a crucial call if we change the sail.  If we go for wrong change then it wastes one hour of sailing and wears everyone out.

I’m enjoying the cloud spotting.  When you play it right you can make a very big gain on the clouds, every cloud is different, so its a different game all the time. You think you know metrology but you get surprised every time.

The more steady winds are in the north, this is what we have been battling to get to.  Over last days every time you tried to make a hitch north you get stuck., My analysis is that the fleet have sailed further south than anticipated due to light winds and current.  It’s very, very hard to get north.  The big disturbance over tomorrow will make a significant impact on the fleet and we hope with a more north-ly position we can take advantage of that.

Every watch people are asking if we are going to arrive in Singapore for Christmas, my answer now is; “I’m a navigator but ETA in this area, forget it.” We deal with what we have and we try and make the best of it.


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