Normandy Channel – BD Update – Day 3

Hello everyone from the southern Coast of England!!
(50 deg 16.9615 N Latitude/ 002 deg 28.1460 Longitude)

We are about 15 miles South of Weymouth, England where earlier today we played some serious “Etch-O-Sketch” with the GPS Chart Plotter that keeps track of our navigation. We’ve learned some difficult lessons about ocean current here in the past few days. Yesterday, being just outside the grasp of wind put us behind and into an adverse current, and it took another tide cycle before we were able to enter the “Solent” and circumnavigate the Isle of Wright.

Today, again with the Etch-O-Sketch, I was diligently trying to catch the competitor just in front of us, when we noticed a different look to the wind and water. Heading up, we were able to sail into wind, and the competitor just missed it. That started a couple hour battle where the objective was to sail as fast as we could to counter the adverse 4 knot current – though seldom negating it altogether. We started a large circle, which we could see inscribed on the Etch-O-Sketch. Quite amusing, but more interesting is that we never went backwards through the whole, large mile-sized circle!! As we sailed forward at 3 knots, the 4 knot current drove us backwards and around in a loop!

We had a similar experience yesterday when with no wind, we were sent back and forth – east and west, across the entrance to the Solent waiting for wind, before realizing that it not being there at that moment was actually a good thing, as we couldn’t make forward progress, and so would likely have had to anchor and wait for the tide change anyway.

So, it’s been an interesting trip so far, to say the least. Frustrating for sure, as the current has not been our only issue; we have a compromised jib as well. In the recent repair of the batten pockets, somehow the leach cord, an internal trim line, had been severed. The result is that we aren’t as beautifully efficient an upwind sailing machine as we usually are.. and most this race so far, has been light and upwind!

But on the good side.. we are sailing on a beautiful day in the English Channel! It’s sunny with a crisp temperature, but a beautiful 9 knot wind and relatively flat waters. Even though we missed the current cycle last night, we had a beautiful sail through the Solent and around the Isle of Wright.. a famous spot from sailing history as the first America’s Cup race in 1851 was around the Isle of Wight.

Bodacious Dream at the start of the Normandy Race
Bodacious Dream at the start of the Normandy Channel (Photo by Sam Holliday)
In any case, we finally got some wind late in the day and sailed the last ten miles with our new William Blair spinnaker, which looked and sailed beautifully. Once in the Solent, we were able to sync with the tides and sail around the island and out the Western entrance.. all under the beauty of the setting sun and rising moon. Quiet, peaceful, not real fast – but forward – so we were quite happy. Needless to say, these two events make up for the time we spent assessing the latest position reports….Ugh!!

Right now, with the weather in front of us and our inability to sail as efficiently upwind, it looks like we may not finish the race until Tuesday or even later. There is a big high ridge that will block all of us for an extended period of time, not long after rounding Fastnet Rock. Such is the sport of Yacht Racing.

Until later.. hope you all had a great Labor day!! In the U.S. that’s the holiday that marks the end of the summer. And for those of you elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, hope you’ve having a great end of Summer. And for our friends in New Zealand.. winter’s almost over and summer’s on its way!!

– Dave (and Matt)

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