• Updates From Boris: November 13th

    UPDATE FROM BOIRS 13/11/18 at 13:00 PART 1:

    Why did Malizia sail this strange curve last night ? Problems with the kite ? Yes. To put this first: no scratch on the sail. Itís in its bag and stacked. But that didnít look a likely end of the scenario for a frightening hour.

    Unfortunately, I have lost a lot of miles but not all due to the incident. We were still just transitioning into the stronger trades that the frontrunners have had for a while. We sailed most of yesterday through unpleasant unstable and rather soft trades still with a lot of swell and no opportunity to see Malizia accelerate really.
    Sailing into the night I send a video with some dark rain patch behind and then it all turned pitch black. Then you can still react to squalls. I canít see them on the satellite pictures.

    I installed myself with the beanbag in the cockpit to snooze with the spinnaker sheet in my hand. Average wind I would say was ideal for the spinnaker: around 19 knots. I had a few gusts with 24 knots. I ease the sheets, bear away and all was nicely under control. I fall asleep again and wait the next gust. This time it starts the same and I am completely relaxed still. But after a while it goes up to 26 sometimes 28 knots. We are sailing a deep angle at 24 knots boat speed. I am standing at this point with the kite sheet inside the cockpit, still relaxed with a low heart rate expecting the squall to be over in a few minutes. But the inevitable bad constellation of swell and gust and boat speed - we may have been slow or high angle - letís us spin out of control in a split second. The rudder ventilates and the boat turns violently upwind. As all the sheets are immediately eased we donít even heel over that much.

    The critical moment now is always to not crash gybe after tiring back down on course. Once the rudder has grip again the pilot overreacts often and would send us directly into a gybe - with the port rudder lifted up at this point that wouldnít be a nice scenario.

    UPDATE FROM BORIS 13/11/18 at 13:00 PART 2:

    So far all not very unusual. But my jockey pole (extending the sheet sideways from the boat) has jumped out of its support and is now banging violently against the coach roof and itís windows. Instead of sheeting in I ease the sheet more to liberate the sheet from the pool. This was fatal for the order of the spinnaker. I stow the pole away and fixate it in safety.

    Now itís still blowing 26 and I start to winch down the drop line of the spinnaker socket. I switch the gears of the winch very carefully because itís hard but I donít want to break the down line neither. It seems stuck. Itís still so dark that I see just a small radius of boat in the cone of my headlamp. I use a strong spotlight to look at the top of the mast and to see why the spinnaker socket wouldnít come down. My heart almost stops as I see the spinnaker is wrapped around the forestay.

    I guess if you go on YouTube and look for ďsailboat racing failsĒ You will quickly find an example: the typical Wednesday beer can racer has his kite completely stuck and is now helplessly doomed to sail downwind until one of his mates goes up the mast and cuts everything free.

    I cannot smile in this moment. I am the stupid one. Except I am in the middle of the Atlantic in way too much wind for a 400 square meter sail stuck 30 meters high up in a rain squall where I cannot even see it.

    What happens now is crazy. I hear a melody in my mind and consciously focus in my heartbeat and acid taste in the mouth while my head does everything like a professional yacht team of 5 people. Just from time to time my conscious mind lays out some general orders to the team and myself I stay almost relaxed. I feel a real separation between my body and mind.

    UPDATE FROM BORIS 13/11/18 at 13:00 PART 3:

    The team is doing the following steps in good order: dropping the windward rudder, opening the mast rotation, keep just at the beginning in the middle, sheet mainsail halfway in, some boom vang on, open the Cunningham and the back stay, gybe (without broaching with full main in 26 knots - which by a miracle succeeded), put some keel on the new side (starboard) to balance with all the stacking and water ballast on port and finally furl the j3 staysail. Now I was ready for my trick: I would drive the boat with the tiller in one hand and illuminate the kite with the spotlight in my other hand. By finding the right angle to the wind - like 175 - the back wind behind the mainsail would blow into the spinnaker in a way that it spins the whole sail around the forestay. It had to be coming around 4 times. And it did. Each successful Pirouette of the spinnaker around the forestay would flood me with a feel of joy and relief. If the spinnaker remained stuck -which can happen - it could have cost me the mast. The big balloon was aggressively shaking the rig around before I managed to gybe.

    Once the kite was unwrapped from the forestay I sheeted in and checked it with the spotlight. Zero damage. Only now could I winch down the drop line and pull the socket over the beast. I sat down and had a cup of water, a chewing gum and clapped myself on the shoulder.

    UPDATE FROM BORIS 13/11/18 at 13:00 PART 4:

    The rest was work as normal. Dropping the spinnaker socket into the fore hatch, cleaning up, hoisting the big gennaker (I also call it mast head zero, a furled tight luff sail from rigid 3di material and not nylon cloth). Cleaning up I found that I had lost the jockey pole. Of course also all the sheets were wrapped around the foils. I took my time to do a proper job and I could see that in the massive loss on the tracker this morning. Luckily this doesnít cost us a place. Depending on the events they to could make it harder to get into the match in front. But since the gennaker is unfurled we are back to full race mode. Staysail and stack in place, trim to be adjusted with each squall. It just happened now again: I had a phone call from the organisers and while I was speaking with them about my night a squall hit so suddenly that I spun out and lost the steering again - broached. But with the gennaker it is only half as violent as with the kite and nothing can get tangled. A few seconds later we are back on track. This looks like full on three days of constant trimming and making sure to go fast but not to get caught by one of these nasty squalls too often again. I will push as much as possible.
    Have a good day.