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Under Pressure

July 11th, 2006

The southern side of the Pacific high pressure zone has been affecting the competitors. A few days ago we saw Kinetic sail a little too close to the high and lose a few positions as she “bounced off” the light air zone and headed south again looking for better winds. Over the last couple of days a number of other boats including Cassiopeia and Voodoo Child have also bounced into the lighter winds of the high, that seems to extend further to the south, the farther west the boats get. The pressure is on for the navigator on each boat to find a way to through under (or at least to the south) of the high pressure zone.

Today’s position report shows Blue Moves II still leading Division 3 followed by Passepartout in second place, Freehand third place and Norena of Wight in fourth. Passepartout and Freehand have been eating into the lead held by Blue Moves II, partly because there is so much separation between Blue Moves II and her competitors on the race course that they are experiencing totally different weather conditions. With each boat still more than 1300nm from the finish, the finish order in this division is far from decided.

Kahuna (a Hawaiian word meaning Shaman) again cast a spell on Division 2 and managed to take over the corrected time lead from Tripp Tease - just. Turicum remains in 3rd. Red Heather, benefiting from her move to the south a few days ago moved up one position to 4th, dropping Night Runner to 5th. Kinetic and Antares continue in 6th and 7th, having yet to see if their move south will allow them gain back positions on the boats to the north.

In Division one the battle of old school versus new school Bill Lee designs continues to heat up. Horizon benefiting from their earlier dip to the south logged the highest average daily speed for the third day in a row! Voodoo Child leads, though Horizon in second is in a favorable position and has been chipping away at her bigger siblings lead. Cassiopeia continues in third place in Division one on corrected time, although she is the closest boat to the finish and may yet get the first to finish honors.

From this morning aboard Kahuna:

July 11, 2006, 5:30HST

The morning of 7/11 finds us suffering in light winds of only 3-5 knots....today will probably only be around 130mi. The High is moving to the west but there is a ridge axis bubble of lighter wind that has expanded towards us. We knew we were cutting the corner a bit close but the expansion of the light air zone was not forecast until too late. Still spirits are high and we are pushing to get every last tenth of a knot...as we feel the pressure of boats behind.

From Kinetic:

Kinetic report July 11 0600 HST

Lat 31 deg 20 min, Long 134 deg 20 min, true wind speed 8, boat speed 5, mostly cloudy, warm & humid air.

Next-to-last report:”Much will depend on what the Hi pressure area does.”

Last report: "We have had a torturously slow 24 hours, with light winds from the wrong direction and a lumpy confused sea.”

The end of the pain must be near now. We have had some wind on and off overnight; what wind we do have is coming from the right direction now. As much as we enjoyed boating a 25 lb Mahi Mahi (Dorado) this morning, we are ready to put away the monofilament and get some serious sailing speeds dialed in.

From early this morning aboard Voodoo Child:

It’s the last 4 hour watch which goes form 3am to 7am. I have spent my hour out of the rotation getting the most recent weather and grib files. There are three different gribs that I download and when run them through the weather routing software they all pretty much agree. We need to go further south. In general that is what we tried to do yesterday, but the port jibe absolutely sucks. The waves are all going east to west and when you sail on port you are heading more south. All the waves go under you from the side and makes for a very wobbly boat. It’s hard to drive, not all that fast and uncomfortable. Also for the most part it’s not the favored jibe. Since it is so hard to drive on Port we elected to sail the favored jibe on starboard this night. It has made it much easier to drive and we’ve made some good miles towards the island. But, if the gribs are right and I have no reason to doubt them, then we better get our assess heading south. It looks like there will be more wind down there.

Currently we are at 26 degrees north. The gribs want us to go down to somewhere between 23 and 24 N. Of course I worry about the fact we have been sailing on starboard all night. I fret that competitors (ie Horizon) are getting leverage to the south etc. The wind has been all over the place tonight. The direction has been shifting from between about 38 degrees magnetic all the way up to 70+. The wind speed has been very variable as well blowing from 10 kts to 20 kts. Right now it’s blowing 12.5 not 11.2, no 10.2 no 11.8, no 12.9 ok you see what I mean it keeps bouncing around. Right now we are in a down phaze. The wind is lighter and the direction is heading us on Starboard tack. We are finally in the triple digits and are under 1000 miles. Currently we have 942 to go. Ok now that I’ve put my concerns on paper, well not paper, but have typed them out, anyway, now that I’ve “typed” my concerns now I’m really worried about getting south! Didn’t I say in earlier postings that my job was going to get easier. Well I guess not

From Blue Moves II:

It’s 03:11 PDT or 02:11 local boat time.

The wind is still up between 20 and 24knots, and we are sailing with the #3 jib and one reef in the mainsail. The driving rain we experienced earlier has stopped and although we have low cloud all around, it must be thinning out as the light from the moon has brightened the sky behind the clouds. At least it’s easier to steer around waves when you can see them. There are still a few surprise waves that occasionally wash over the decks. The long awaited veer in the wind has been gradually taking affect and turning us back towards the course of 216 magnetic that we need to get away from the low pressure centre.

The continual pounding has loosened a shelf in the lazarette that some of the extra plastic diesel fuel tanks were tied to. At 01:00am “Doctor” Duane crawled into the locker armed with a drill and nuts and bolts, assisted by Coco, to make some temporary repairs to secure the cans from leaping getting airborne. Refinements will be made when we have some daylight

Morale is still high and everyone is very focused on sailing fast, but safely.

The dawn can’t come soon enough!! Coffee and breakfast would be very welcome.

Keep the updates coming please!

Next report 2100 PST, July 11

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