Global Ocean Race, rankings and musings after a week at sea

We've now been sailing for exactly a week, a week since we left Palma in
an emotional afternoon saying our goodbyes to family and friends, tearful
eyes, a bit of apprehension but lots of anticipation ahead of the trip of
our lifetime.

First few days in the med passed in a blur, lots of favourable winds meant
we were literally rigurgitated in the open Atlantic, since then going
south not much wind, hot and peaceful, just lots of light patches to sail
through and quite a few sail changes.

There is more wind in my pants than in the whole of the Canaries

It's been a slow day of the Global Ocean Race trying to get the boat
moving in patchy airs topping 3-4 knots, a cloudy morning meant that none
of the typical sea-breezes formed during the day over Lanzarote, so we
were left floating about like the many turtles we have seen in the area.
Typically frustration and desperation are common feelings in these
conditions but Clubby cheered us up with its total lack of knowledge of
the basic laws of physics, running up and down the deck armed only with
its enthusiasm and a 12v electric fan trying to get some wind into the
sails... eventually, exhausted, Clubby sat down and solemnly declared
"there is more wind in my pants then in the whole of the Canaries".

A few lines of Peruvian keep spirits high in "Financial Crisis"

Today it has been as uneventful as watching grass grow. We debated for
ours which side of an island 100 miles away we were going to pass, then we
rested some more. The only excitement has been the close encounter with a
fishing boat, unusually small for the distance from the coast, no Radar,
no AIS.

GOR Rankings Correction

Global Ocean Race official rankings have been unrealiable all day today,
the problem was spotted earlier when Cessna Citation and us on Financial
Crisis started swapping positions, when in fact nothing had changed on the
water.

The latest position report throws us back 160 miles in 5th, to trail the
leaders by 208 miles when in fact we are still 4th some 50-60 behind
Campagne de France.

The IT department at Geovoile, providers of the tracker, were promptly
alerted and all hands are at work to solve the problem, meanwhile on
board, everytime we receive the position report we have to ask Clubby the
seal to re-calculate the rankings for us and can confirm that at 2100 UTC
the rankings were:

1st Campagne de France
2nd Eric Tabarly
3rd Joshua Slocum
4th Donald Crowhurst
5t

Life aboard "Financial Crisis" in Leg one of the Global Ocean Race.

All is good on board "Financial Crisis", I guess we are starting to settle
in life at sea, it's been very good since leaving the med, very little
work compared to the constant sail changes before Gibraltar, here we spend
most of the time taking turns trimming the sails but letting the autopilot
steer, which seems the more efficient option, so we can recharge our
batteries and rest a little.

Food has been very good, the morning bowl of Ready Brek has become my
favourite, i've had my portion just before sunrise, during the dogs hours
watch. Today we had brunch with eggs and bacon, an exception just for the
first week and will have an early dinner, probably some pasta as we've had
freeze dried for main meals for two days.

Diplomatic incident endangers Global Ocean Race team lives

"Clubby the seal", the mascotte on board "Financial Crisis", last night
went off on a violent rampage after reading a media report calling him a
"soft toy". The Global Ocean Race team of Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs
feared for their lives as they were held hostages for hours on their racing
yacht after the seemingly innocent looking seal lost its temper over the
media slander.

Yesterday just after 1800 hours we all sat in the cockpit to read the news
of the day, one particular email from Global Ocean Race Communications
team sent Clubby in a fuming rage, we had to use he Category zero
watertight doors to separate ourselves from the evil mammal, who run
around shouting bad words and yielding a stanley knife.

Audio message from Marco & Paul

To listen to the audio message click on the attached file below.

Intense 24hours and a break to the west

It's definitely been an intense past 24 hours, getting through the
Gibraltar straight was a wild ride, squeezing through at night with winds
building to 35knots in choppy seas was like driving a jeep down a narrow
mountain path at night with no brakes.

Once on the other side we went south, we knew the wind was going to
decrease progressively and due to the tiredeness we postponed some of the
gear changes failing to make the most of the opportunity to pull back
miles on the opposition, we wanted to gybe west but at the same time we
are very conscious that we do not want too much separation between us and
the rest, we want to stay with the pack, which has its advantages and
disatvantages, it contains the risks as well as reduces the opportunities.

On board all well, after the

Global Ocean Race Rehab Program: stop smoking

I swore plenty of times i would give up smoking and finally the Global
Ocean Race has given me the context and final push, it was something i
wanted to do for a long time, tried and failed, plus we have no money, so
it made perfect sense to leave dock, cold turkey with no cigarettes.
40-45 days at sea should be the perfect rehab.

So far, as the photo shows, I have managed perfectly with just some
nicotine replacement patches, i have not let my sudden irritability and
feelings of frustration become an issue on board. I am a strong confident
person, breathe, I am a strong confindent person...

Long tiring night pushing the boat hard

We had fast sailing conditions through the night, the picture is of Paul
showing off his helming at over 20knots in 30knots of breeze. We love
those big numbers on the Sailmon, the big bright instrument repeater. We
pushed throught the night and got really tired, but the position reports
showed us catching up which was enough motivation to push more...

In the morning we crossed paths and took over Phesheya, we had a chat on
VHF, they reported a couple of broken main batten cars and a conservative
night (which explains our gains).

Finally into the trade winds

The struggle to reach the stable trade winds seems to have lasted an
eternity, the fleet progress has been very slow compared to the schedule
we had imagined when leaving Punta del Este and only Cessna at the front
has been keeping steady averages since reaching these steady winds a day
ahead of us.

So far and for several days we seemed to have fairly stable winds at night
then we'd get stopped during the day in flukey winds and sudden rain
showers caused presumably by the high temperatures and moist air becoming
unstable. This morning for the first time the winds held strong after
sunrise and the sky is unmistakeably changed, little white fluffy clouds
are scattered regularly around instead of massive cumulus formations
typical of the unstable air masses of the last few days, see the photo for
an example.

We've emerged from this section of the race in second place squeezing a
lead of 60 miles over Phesheya, our gamble to go offshore at Cabo Frio
paid off eventually. I think we can now expect a drag race to the doldrums
where things could get shaken again. I may be wrong so we'll certainly
keep a watchful eye on the Dutch and the Southafrincans and try cover our
backs from a likely attack...

We had a few issues with the NKE electronics suddenly losing the boat
speed reading, then the compass reading, all misteriously working again by
simply powering off an on the system, luckily all the problems occurred
in light airs and not while sailing with the big spinnaker in strong winds
like during leg 3 when a similar failure caused the boat to go off in a
big gybe resulting in the big spinnaker to be torn in half (and
subsequently repaired in Punta del Este).

Another misterious source of worry came from the primary alternator we
rely on to charge the batteries, for 2 consecutive days it seemed to have
given up the ghost, only to wake up gingerly this morning and resume
service as if nothing had ever happened.

So far, save for a spinnaker sheet which I quite stupidly lost overboard
during a manouvre we havent really had any damage or serious problems,
let's hope things carry on like this to make Charleston a stress free and
cheap stopover. The budget has long ago been totally depleted. In Punta we
were being hosted in free accommodation by the Yacht Club Punta del Este
and for the other expenses i relied on the generosity of many readers who
have sent donations through www.marconannini.com/help which i'm very
grateful for. We're hoping to find a host family during our relatively
brief Charleston stopover and hopefully the price of food will be no where
near the inflated prices of Punta del Este where an espresso could cost
over 3 euros! For now we're getting in the swing of our freeze dried diet,
the last fresh item, an apple, was eaten yesterday.