LOCATION: 250 miles W of Chichi-jima Island, Japan.
BOATSPEED: 19 KTS
WINDSPEED: 14 KTS
SAILS: Full main, big jib, staysail
We appear to be OK. Our lonesome detour to the north hasn’t ended in self-destruction, we don’t find ourselves hundreds of miles behind, and by all means we are back in this race. A lot sooner than expected, too, I might add.
The decision to stick to the high road was never built around short-term profit; it was a long-term plan that would unravel over the next week or so. Being north meant getting further east, and getting further east meant a delayed turn south with better angles to Auckland. Once alone, we figured it would be weeks before we saw anyone again; the guys to the south would never get as far east as us. But given the difficult conditions they’ve had, everyone’s in scatter mode and it’s painted a very different picture. Groupama has graced us with their company to the north (costing them surprisingly little). Abu Dhabi and Sanya are also trying to head this way, albeit less successfully, while Telefónica and CAMPER are toughing it out further south.
As good as it feels to have more-than-survived our terrifying trailblazing trials – and believe me, everyone’s relieved – we’re very mindful of the challenges still ahead. There are over 4,000 miles to New Zealand and we all have to traverse areas of little to no wind, and soon. There could be a race restart, or worse, a fleet reversal where our high road shuts down and Telefónica escapes to the south, having then cut the corner (and given the way their race is going, that’s a very realistic possibility!).
Regardless of what the next few days of sailing brings, the important thing is that PUMA has some swagger back. The guys are smiling, spirits are high, and we’ve mostly forgotten the last week of torture in favor of more recent reaching pleasantries. I say mostly because everyone owns some lingering bumps and bruises we tend to revisit now and again.
So our game plan is simple: keep the boat going fast and the bow pointed east. Eventually the time will come to start a gradual turn south, but that’s entirely dependent on the wind. We know all too well that that is far beyond our control!
“The problem with not sleeping at all for a week, and then catching up on all of it, is that you’re a total zombie when you wake up. Such deep sleep...” Jono Swain