To ensure that Mission Performance and the rest of the Clipper Race fleet can embrace whatever weather conditions are thrown at us we carry a compliment of 11 sails:
– The main sail which itself can be ‘reefed’ to increase or decrease the sail area depending on wind strength
– The staysail, a smaller sail on the inner forestay to bridge the wind flow between the forward-most Yankee sails and the main
– Three Yankees. Our mid-sized Yankee took extensive damage in the Cape Town storm so is sadly out of action until it is repaired in Australia
– The windseeker. As it names suggests this is for upwind sailing in light airs. A sail that you don’t want to see very often and one we certainly weren’t expecting to use in the Southern Ocean. Guess what’s up on deck right now?
– The storm sails. Again sails that you perhaps don’t want to have to use in anger. Bright orange in colour (more visible if you need help!) and a bit like two napkins in size.
– Last but not least our three spinnakers for downwind conditions varying in both fabric weight and size.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I think it is fair to say that when we departed African shores we had all expected a fast and furious downwind sleigh ride to Albany relying on our heavyweight spinnaker. However, this journey has been far from regular and today we hoisted the eleventh sail type on the leg, Bodeccia, our lightweight spinnaker.
This sail hasn’t flown since we left the shores of Rio when it took extensive damage. After hours of work by crew, supporters and professionals in Cape Town she flies again. Sadly however this means one thing, little wind.
After breaking the 1,000-mile mark last night our progress has ground to a halt. Boats behind us are catching and those ahead are tantilisingly close to Australia. It’s frustrating to say the least. Even the albatross aren’t flying because they don’t have wind to assist. We want to get there to see friends and family and to rest and recuperate before the next leg. I for one want to celebrate my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday Dad!).
Meanwhile we are sat on deck twiddling our thumbs whiling away the hours admiring the sunrises and sunsets playing childing games in between. It’s amazing what constitutes as fun after 20 days at sea. Guess the country is a favourite with clues such as ‘wait patiently, stand in line’ (Kuwait) or ‘big bird from the Far East’ (Croatia).
Hopefully the wind will return and we’ll pick up speed and spirits.
P.s. Mark says hi to friends and family.