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Life on board and thoughts on Tactics: Which way?

July 5th, 2006

Life on board and thoughts on Tactics: Which way?

It's Day Three and the on board reports are starting to trickle in:

David Sutcliffe reports that as of last night Kinetic has settled into more steady conditions after quite a few sail changes yesterday. And in addition to some good conditions and boat speed, it sounds like Kinetic has some even better menu planning "Food is awesome - we had fresh salmon and salad for dinner tonight, followed by strawberry rhubarb pie. After we eat, we sit on the high side to steady the boat."


From on board John Leitzinger's Tacoma based Express 37, Kahuna came the following report for July 4th:

We had a nice sail out of the straits in 15-20 knots of wind. Brownie barfed all over everybody on the rail...and all over the boat. He is rallying (thanks Eva for getting him all liquored up at Monty's). It was too rough to cook yesterday so we ate cup-o-soup and sandwiches....early this morning the spinnaker went up and we are sliding south at 7-8 knots in mostly following seas.

The crew members are settling into a routine...sleep, eat, sail, repeat..daily advil rations began this morning.

We had no luck with the radio check yesterday and are hopeful that it will function properly today. Hoping the transponder tracking on the Vic-Maui website is working for you all. (NOTE: at today's roll call, Kahuna was 3rd in class and 5th overall...remember that these early placings really mean nothing...but they're fun for those of us watching at home)

So far we have had one dolphin escort, seen an albatros and several generic sea birds.

One boat visible ahead of us...blue spinnaker.

We are about 65 miles offshore of Grays harbor...111 miles south of Cape Flattery. I imagine all of the fleet are heading about due south as the winds are forecast to be best along the coast for the next few days...maybe a light spot or two in a few days...high press up against the coast..low press inland and a big low out in the Pacific.

Good news...the radio works great and we are in the hunt!

From Brian Duchin , skipper of the Santa Cruz 52, Voodoo Child comes some insightful comments about navigation and tactics for this year's race:

I'm now down here "navigating". A good part of the navigation, which is really mostly weather routing, is downloading the grib files. Grib files are derived from computer generated weather models and they give us a prediction of wind speed and direction over time. I can then take these files and load them on to our performance racing software and then generate a route based upon the boats performance polars. It's a very useful tool, but not the end all. Luckily for me the human factor still comes in. The computer models are rarely exactly correct and they don't always do a good job of prediction how light it might get in the lighter wind areas, they also do not do any predicting for sea state. I download these models using our Iridium Satellite Phone. This phone has limited/slow data capability. Using a free email based system called Saildocs I can retrieve a grib file. We use a service offered by a company called Ocens where we download a whole host of weather related files all for free during the race. It's not like the old days where we had to listen to the SSB high frequency radio to get a position for the center of the high and watched the barometer like a hawk. Now we have all kinds of information to further daze and confuse us.

That brings me to why we are going so far south rather then pointing a more direct route to Maui. The Pacific weather pattern has been highly anomalous for this time of year. A good size low is pushing high pressure our way. In order to sail on the proper side of that high, thus going down wind we have had to sail quite close to the coast. The weather routing software has us even jibing closer and to pass with in 30 miles of Cape Mendocino. It remains to be seen if we will jibe. Right now the wind is pointing us in a favorable direction and unless it lifts us as the models predict we will stay on this jibe heading a little bit to the left of true south.

Enough talk about weather and stuff. On a more personal side, we are wrapping of an excellent evening watch. The wind blew 10 to 20. We had the tunes going and life was good. It's special out here, that's why I keep coming back. Well my weather files are now all in so I'm going to have a look.

At the front of the fleet, Cassiopeia covered 234 nautical miles at an average speed of just over 9 knots. They have just over 2000 miles to go to the finish! Look for the daily runs to increase as the boats find better pressure as they head for the Tradewinds.

Some great stories - note to all racers and families and friends: please make sure that you submit your stories to vicmaui2006@royalvan.org We are awarding prizes for the best colour, picture and video.

Next report 2100 hours PST July 6th.

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