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Managing the strain

by Ed Watson, July 11th, 2010

Gear and crew fatigue are now significant challenges to overcome, as the VicMaui boats cover the last few hundred miles of the race. The two leaders, Kinetic and Terremoto!, have both reduced sail to make it easier on the crew. Both boats have recently blown out spinnakers. Sailing fast in open ocean conditions is a tremendous physical strain on man and machine alike. And Terremoto! is shorthanded with Susan still incapacitated from the injury to her ribs. Here’s how she describes what it’s like to remain in the cabin….

“Sound:  Water runs by the boat so fast, it sounds like a freight train.  As her speed increases, the freight train roars louder.  Added to this are the waves that slap up against the boat…It’s not a slap.  It’s a pound.  Also as the speed increases and we are sailing down a wave, there is a whistling wind-like noise with a vibration.  The mast creaks constantly as the boom and main adjust to the wind direction.  Every now and then, there is a loud pop as the waves knock the wind out of the sail then SABLAM the sail fills with wind.  Added to these sounds is the movement of the boat.  It is always rocking, sometimes coming up with a higher heel than ‘normal’.”

Turricum has also lost a spinnaker, and the wind “blew out our (Sonsie’s) whisker pole into a twisted mess of aluminum and line”.  The whisker pole broke at night, which adds to the strain of repair and the risk, but their blog simply states it was a “big bang but no ancillary damage fortunately!”

And then there is the seemingly inconsequential act of gybing.  Most boats have now gybed over to a port tack (at least for the time being).  But, since virtually the start of the race everything has been done heeled over on a starboard tack. It takes time to get used to the new tack, and the learning almost always involves some bruises. Fortunately most bruises can be treated with a Mai Tai --- and they make good ones in Lahaina.

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