Friday, September 12, 2008

Thunderstorms and stacking

Photo Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team
Ericsson 3 reports:
We had a fantastic start of the evening. The wind rapidly increased to 12-14 knots and we have been going steadily in16,5 knots. The performance of the boat is fantastic, we are cruising over the two metre swell like nothing.

The wind has been gusty and much effected by the surrounding clouds. At one point we did 20 knots of boatspeed in front of a cloud but when we got underneath it, the speed dropped to 10 knots. Richard Mason was helming at the time and said the conditions reminded him of the Doldrums last time around the world:

"There you can sit around waiting for wind for hours and then, suddenly, a gust of 35 knots hits you. The thunderstorms are everywhere and the sky often plays a fantastic scenery.
But one time the fantastic sky turned into an inferno, Richard Mason continues, "A really dramatic thunderstorm blew in and we were badly hit by lightning. Besides that everyone almost shit themselves, no one was hurt. The boat was worse. All the electricity was out, only the swing keel system was working. When we finally arrived to Rio all the wires had to be re-installed."

During this trip to Alicante we are focusing on how we can make the boat lighter. We are also always trying to find smarter ways to stack our equipment to windward. Some ideas are better than others. One example from today was when Mange installed a bunch of hooks for our sunglasses. He put one rack on each side of the boat and also in the middle, all for optimizing the weight. But what he didn't think of is that it is a bit risky to keep them there when someone is sleeping in the forward bunk. If the boat dives into a wave that person will slide forward and crush all the glasses.

It seems like the wind cannot really decide what it wants, A moment ago it totally dropped and we had to start the engine to keep moving. Now, ten minutes later we are sailing again, doing 12 knots. 24 hours from the condtitions will most probably become rougher. The Nordic winds from Andalucia will hit us with 25 knots straight on the bow and we will finish the delivery upwind. -