Sir Robin Knox-Johnston makes good speed as wind veers

06 November 2014

Clipper Race chairman and founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is seventh in the Rhum class in Transatlantic solo race, the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe. He is currently making 10.1 knots on board Grey Power, and over the last 24 hours has averaged 8.5 knots. He is 163.1 miles off class leader, Anne Caseneuve on Aneo.

Here is his latest blog, sent this morning.

Running south about 130 miles off the Portuguese coast, about level with the Douro River. The wind has followed predictions and backed to the South West and is due to increase.Thus the choice was north of west or south at the moment. The tactics have, to a considerable extent, been dictated by when you cleared Ushant.

Before me you faced a South Westerly wind so the choice was west, but as I passed the wind veered so I, and some others, was able to make a straight run for Cape Finisterre.I went round the Traffic Separation zone within a mile of Group Berto, a multihull that is lying sixth in class to my seventh.I called him on the VHF but he may have been on deck. Later he was pointing higher than me and veered westward whilst I bore off a bit and skitted round his stern and came south.

There was another boat showing on AIS (Automatic Identification System), but intermittently. I heard voices talking in French but I was on deck at the time.

At this stage there is not much point in pinching this boat as we have a whole ocean before us, it is better to go for speed. Once we get the Trade winds, maybe tomorrow night, I can always harden up if necessary.

Finisterre was unanimously declared a Headland.

From a sailing point of view now I have the staysail and main with 3rd reef, averaging 10 plus knots, and comfortable at the moment.The running backstay, which was caught around a batten and would have prevented letting out more sail is now, after a long wrestle, clear. Beneath me the tenor growl of the engine announces a reinforcement of amps into the batteries, the screen is clear of AIS targets, and I have just had a nice cup of tea.

The only problem I have is with the wind instruments, which show a wind speed, and I think reasonably accurately, both True and Apparent, but will not show the direction.This means I cannot ask the auto-pilot to steer by the wind direction, and with constantly changing winds, I have to be around a lot more which reduces my sleep time.I'll get behind the instruments when the boat is not bucking so much and check some of the wiring, but not today, as one jerk and I could lose what I have.There is an equation between being awake more and therefore safer, and having less sleep and so being more dangerous because you are more tired.Modern alarms have done much to favour the getting more sleep option.

RKJ

You can track Sir Robin and Grey Power here on the official race tracker.

It will update every hour during the race.

The Clipper Race will continue to post his blogs here as well.

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