Rolex Transatlantic – Day 9

May 30, 2005   

Tempest had a superb day going until just after midnight UCT, or about 8 PM on the East Coast. We gained distance on every boat in our class, including bigger ones that owe us time. With our big chute flying in up to 26 knots of wind, Tempest roared ahead at twelve and thirteen knots.Around our midnight, as the watches were changing, we started seeing 28 and 30 knots of wind -- time to drop the big chute. We held on and talked about the takedown, then troubles hit twice. The wind pushed the boat into a broach, with the boat heeling over more and rounding up. The boom was pushed into the water, and the preventer -- a line that holds the boom against an uncontrolled jibe -- broke its restraining block. The strain caused a hairline crack in the boom around the vang attachment point. It means damage and strain that we will have to deal with carefully.A few moments later, with a big pop, the wind blew off the top of the spinnaker about ten feet from the top. The bulk of the sail fell into the sea, and had to be dragged out of the water and shoved down the hatch. The top of the spinnaker, still attached to its halyard, wrapped itself around the headstay and remained aloft.

The boat was brought under control and a new sail set, the blast reacher. Tomas went up the mast and retrieved the top of the spinnaker, virtually undamaged by its time in the wind. Tempest returned to very nearly its earlier speed. She lost perhaps a half hour of time, or roughly five miles.

Nobody was injured. Some of the crew have aches and strains from earlier, but everyone is very careful about safety, and good luck lent its helping hand.

Before the midnight messiness, Monday had been a day of learning all around the boat -- Peter Becker taught better steering, Ashley and Tomas taught sewing and sail repair. Will Hubbard, who already knew much, is now an expert splicer. We were smoking.

Steering at these high speeds is tiring. The best and the strongest helmsmen are doing most of it, and they need to rotate often. Despite the surprises and tough work, everyone is pushing his and her hardest.

Ashley is now one handed so requires help in the sewing department so has opened up the “chicken wing” sewing “club” in the salon. Tomas is also a sailmaker so the two of them work through the night on the repair. The repair is not a small one taking 12 hours to repair as the tear went fully across the spinnaker from leech to luff then down the tapes and one of the clews was torn away. The trusty sewing machine is worth its weight.  As this is being written early Tuesday morning, the spinnaker is already mostly repaired. It will be aloft by afternoon.

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