Far from being an easy ride, the Transat Jacques Vabre has not spared our two skippers Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde from its grueling existence. First challenged by the newer and faster boats Carac, Aïna, and V&B, Phil & Pablo restored their advantage on Tuesday evening just as the weather turned hostile and the race became highly technical and tactical.
Phil comments: “Since the adrenaline packed race start on Sunday the days have flown by. We have been through some very difficult conditions, so unstable and with multiple squalls that one moment you are sailing along in 20 knots, and the next second you have 30 knots. The conditions have been so fast, so full-on, that we’ve been forced into a relentless routine. It’s like nothing else – a complete contrast to normal life. We eat, sleep, navigate, make repairs, and then get a power hosing. Added to this, to make things aboard a little more challenging we’ve had serious technical failure aboard with the communications systems.”
After considerable time developing and testing the on board electronic systems in the months building up to Sunday’s race start, losing access to weather data can only be deemed as bad luck for the duo who are currently racing through violent winds and high seas.
“On the second night of the race our recently fitted wind vane decided to stop working. We replaced it with the emergency spare, and all was OK, at least we thought. As of Wednesday morning the brand-new antenna failed, which means that we have since been unable to download any fresh weather files. With no outside assistance allowed, this has made things complicated! As the main satellite communications system is down, we are trying to configure our slower backup satellite phone to find a solution. Having spent a lot of time trying to resolve these issues we have sacrificed a lot of sleep, which we are trying to manage amongst this serious weather we are facing.” Phil commented.
After the boat was knocked flat in Wednesday’s unfortunate incident, throwing their winter sleeping bag into sea water, could things get worse?
Phil continued: “Our sleeping bag is still soaked, but that’s the least of our problems – our new Jetboil has broken! This means cold porridge, cold and crunchy freeze dried meals, and worse, no Earl Grey tea”.
Despite the hostilities of no tea, cold food, and of course relying off old forecasts, spirits aboard are seemingly high as they head south into bluer and warmer seas. Currently sailing through “wild conditions”, the duo are working hard to maintain top speeds whilst keeping control of the boat as they look ahead to 3,000nm of ocean before reaching the finish.
Moral of the story: you can never prepare for an ocean race.