Conrad Colman; Bit of a Sticky Situation

Position: under Tasmania.
Bit of a sticky situation but still going fast

400 nautical miles in 24 hours and no energy to lift the arms to celebrate! We have had ideal conditions these past days to make great miles and we have set another speed record for the boat.

Emails from the boats FEB 21, 2015 16:40

Through last night we were surfing with high speeds with small sails and making a terrifying noise while doing so. The bangs and crashes from the collisions with waves are our standard fare but with the stronger winds the rigging is singing a shrill song and screaches a changed pitch with every gust and acceleration. Try to imagine a constant car crash, under a waterfall, with an orchestra playing the Flight of the Bumble Bee on repeat and you’re about halfway towards understanding what my last day has been like!

In an early morning lull I hoisted the main to reef one in lighter conditions and was rewarded by a few hours of easy sailing in moderate conditions. However the wind built to 30 knots again and I decided to reduce sail to reef 2 again. Only, the main sail wouldn’t come down! After several attempts I called Nandor and we tried several other solutions without success. With the wind now howling near 40 kts, the jammed sail was making our situation pretty precarious, as a super Southern Ocean depression is currently chasing us with over 50 knots forecast. With that in mind, I climbed the rig again, the stronger gusts actually making my life easier by healing the boat so I could almost walk up the mast. I discovered that the locking mechanism that secures the mainsail had broken and jammed tight, refusing to slide either up or down the track. I cut away the lashing and we were able to drop the main to reef two, but we still have the locking car stuck up the mast.

We will have to climb again tomorrow in lighter conditions with tools to try and dissasemble broken pieces to see what functionality we can recover. We may have to divert to New Zealand like the other boats for spares but if we can free the slide we have a plan to continue on using a different way of hoisting the main sail. This is certainly another blow to our chances and it’s very tyring physically and emotionally to be fighting day by day just to stay at sea, let alone think about racing and the nuances of strategy and performance. After a few hours of sleep in a still dry sleeping bag things are looking up and we’re still ready to fight to survive but it will be a hugely difficult challenge. We just passed the halfway point but I don’t know if I should greet that news with a smile or a grimace! Time will tell! I’m still smiling, so thats a good sign.