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Even The Monohull Open 60 Fleet Is Nervous…

November 11, 2005

It’s not just the tris (see below) that are on the edge–and over it–in this year’s Transat Jacques Vabre. Times are hairy on board the Open 60 fleet as well. Here are two onboard reports. First up, Will Oxley aboard Skandia, descirbing his effort to get Brian Thompson up to save his ass:

“What a night.hand steering under big kite in 30 knots of wind out of control time for a change..chute down and change to a fractional smaller kite ..up goes the kite and off we go again roaring into the pitch black. To say it was an effort is a BIT of an understatement..both exhausted we could manage an hour each at the helm before we would have to change over. I found myself closing my eyes and nodding off while steering at 23 knots jerking awake each time to wrench the helm in the appropriate direction. I found more and more I was relying on my sense of balance rather than sight to drive the boat through the waves. Then finally it would be too much and I would yell for brian and then a few minutes later again, not too loud in case he was just getting up. Nothing then a bang on the deck and another yell.. a minute later nothing! Now the breeze is up to 28 knots and I am just in control thinking with rye (sp)humour, I’ll be really annoyed now if I crash when Brian might have taken over and it would have been his fault instead . Then finally …rapping on the deck and a LOUD yell stirs him after his extensive 50 min nap! We do nead to be less well mannered around here to get each other up…”

And then this, from Ellen (sailing with Roland Jourdain aboard Sill), who makes a crash gybe in 38 knots sound like a carnival ride:

“News of the night is that we were pushing pretty hard, though last night things were getting a bit dodgy with the spinnaker so we changed to the gennaker to be a bit safer; though we didn’t expect what was to happen next. We crash gybed under pilot in a 38 knot squall. Poor Sill and V was completely on her side, the cabin seemed much wider as I climbed vertically up the floor to get out. We spent 20 mins trying to get her sorted and we did. And although we were both a bit full of adrenalin, miraculously we didn’t break anything. I was a asleep when it happened so it was a bit of a rude awakening. But, we always manage to see the funny side of all this stuff which is great. In fact though we’re pretty knackered and always pushing we still manage a giggle, normally about something fairly un-important, or something funny that one or the other of us does. Really happy to be out here with Bilou, it’s great. We’ve been stuck to the helm for a couple of days now, and the helming is touch going, especially in the big waves, when we had the kite and gusts up to 38 knots. It’s physically hard work, but the speed is good. It’s great surfing, but very stressful and getting the kites down has been pretty sportif!”

Jeez, Ellen, hope you didn’t miss your tea break. She’s one cool cat…

“C’mon, Bilou. Push it! This is getting boring…”

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