A friend of Andy Andersons is competing on Puma Logic in the Royal Ocean Racing Club Cowes to Maderia race. Updates from onboard belowIt started on Monday and given the wind I have seen off the coast of the Isle of Whight this week it is going to be a tough race down the Atlantic.
You can also follow the boats on this live tracker.
Updates from onboard Puma Logic from the team website
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Where are they? That is the question we have all been asking today. It seems that Puma's tracker decided to stick at their position from 2100 hrs last night, and they have been there ever since.
Please don't be alarmed, they are all fine, but unfortunately we are not quite sure exactly where they are. We have contacted the yacht to try and get them to reset the tracker itself but are not sure if they have got the message or if the reset didn't work. Anyway, all this means is that if we don't know where they are, then their competitors don't either! They just might have got into their own little wind pattern and are creeping up behind them.....stealthily!
Conditions have improved dramatically during the day and the weather models say that they are experiencing sunshine, steady westerly winds at 15 knots, and so they should be making good progress towards Cape Finisterre, on the Northern most tip of Portugal.
We have been inundated today with messages of support and good will - some of them quite emotional.......keep them coming, it means so much to all of them and really spurs them on to get the yacht moving towards Madeira as quickly as they can.
I find it hard to believe that this is their 4th day at sea; it feels like the 14th with what they have gone through. We have been busy today getting all their crew bags and food for the return race ready for shipment tomorrow, awaiting their arrival, making sure that they get clean, fresh and most importantly dry clothes when they step ashore.
There hasn't been much information coming back from the other 4 yachts left in the race today. None of the yachts that returned to the South Coast on Monday night and Tuesday have set off again, so it seems that the five will stay that way in Madeira...I think I can feel a bit of a party coming on already!!
posted by Sailing Logic at 5:10 PM
For my part the safety of the team and keeping Puma going is of primary importance. In the past I have always pushed very hard and for the first time that I can remember in an offshore race I have had to make the decision to throttle back and treat it differently. A difficult decision, or so I would have thought previously, but when the time came there was not really a decision to make. We just had to do what we needed to in order to look after Puma and keep everyone safe.
Ushant was the first real land mark for us and it certainly did not disappoint. It was pitch black as we rounded; the moon still had not come up, making helming extremely difficult. We crashed off several waves before hitting a big one. Everything shuddered, including me. Puma was fully submerged in the crest of the wave. I then seriously thought about heading into Brest for a break. Down below was a mess with food, pots, pans, cups and everyone’s kit strewn all over the place. Not to mention the bilges full of H2O! Without exception we were all feeling under par and Dave and myself were on the point of exhaustion. First we had to round Ushant (the NW most tip of France renowned for its unforgiving sea state). It was blowing 35 knots of wind and lived up to all expectations. I had briefed the team on watch that we may go to Brest but agreed that we would wait till we had rounded before making the final decision.
After rounding Ushant the nasty unpredictable sea state was replaced by a more manageable Atlantic swell. It was bigger but coming from one direction and a proper ocean swell. We dug deep, deeper than I have ever had to, and made the decision to carry on. Brian asked ‘where are we heading?’ I smiled (although it would not have been seen as it was pitch black) and casually responded ‘Madeira, as your son would have said, we are still on the dance floor!’ I did make a promise to myself though; that I would never sail around Ushant in a F8-9 gale again! Only time will tell if I keep that one or not!!!
For the next few hours we battled through the biggest sea I have seen since being in the Southern Ocean in 1997! This time I am only on a 38 foot plastic yacht not a 67 foot steel yacht designed to race around the world. However I felt completely safe aboard Puma. We had looked after her earlier and now she was looking after us. She coped with the huge swell brilliantly and I never felt at risk or in any sort of danger. It was a tough night for everyone aboard. Sleeping was almost impossible and as for keeping dry; forget it. The wind was holding a steady 35 knots and gusting up to 45 (that is a force 8 – 9 gale). Looking after Puma and the team was still the mot important consideration and to that end I have no regrets that we continued through the night and most of Wednesday with just the trysail (storm mainsail) and no 4 jib (smallest headsail). We have lost huge amounts of distance to Pen Azen and British Soldier but we are still going, all in one piece with hardly any breakages or battle scars. It was one hell of an achievement to get around Ushant and will be an even bigger one when we get to Madeira.
It is just starting to get light again (Thursday morning) and we have the full mainsail up and no 3 genoa (a small headsail). The wind has dropped to between 10 and 15 knots and the sea state is so much more kindly. I must leave you now to go and put up more sail area. We are now ready to rejoin this yacht race and are going to do it at full speed. There is still a long way to go and we are going to fight to the end.
posted by Sailing Logic at 7:26 AM
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Philippe has called in today to say that everyone is now feeling alot better, as the wind has calmed a little, and the sea state is still rough, but very much calmer than yesterday afternoon and during the night.
You will have seen on the race website that there are now only 5 yachts left. We have managed to find out a little of what has happened to the other yachts in the race and it seems that Puma Logic and her crew have already passed a major test of seamanship by carrying on and sticking with it. Mostly Harmless, the Prima 38 owned by Tom Hayhoe and Natalie Jobling damaged their mainsail as they were tacking along the top of the Brittany coast last evening and headed back across the Channel to Falmouth where they have enjoyed a very hearty English breakfast and are trying to determine if the mainsail is repairable and if they are going to continue to Madeira. Our friends on Kerlaria, sailing double-handed, had a few gear issues, that although were not debilitating in themselves, collectively and with the weather being so bad they decided enough was enough and are now back in the Solent. Change of Course had hydraulic backstay problems and went into Plymouth to effect repairs, and it is hoped that she may continue to Madeira for the race back. Ultraia has also joined them in Plymouth, and are debating whether to carry on after the weather has calmed down or to call it a day. The Class 0 yacht, Aquis Granus unfortunately had engine trouble just after the start and headed back to port without leaving the Solent. They are hoping to set off to Madeira once again when the weather gets better.
In the Solent at the moment, we seem to be getting some of the tail end of the weather that the fleet got during late yesterday evening and night. It has been gusting up to 55 knots off Dockhead in Southampton Water this afternoon, but is now steady at 40 knots, which is Gale force 8.
The race positions at 16.00 bst show that British Soldier is just ahead of Pen Azen in Class 1, with Puma a little way behind them. The race in each class is determined by a handicap system. As Puma is the smallest yacht in her class, she has the best handicap of the 3 yachts, which means that even if she doesn't beat Pen Azen and British Soldier over the line, she can still win on corrected time when the handicap is calculated. This makes the race even more exciting as we just don't know until every yacht has finished the race what the final positions will be.
posted by Sailing Logic at 5:06 PM
A night not for the fainthearted. An exhausted Skipper called in at 11pm last night saying that Puma was only 1 mile from Ushant and the seas were huge. Puma was sailing with No 4 heavy jib and storm trysail, and still going over 6 knots. Jamaica Clipper seems to have definitely forgotten how good the pasties are in Penzance and have recrossed the Channel and are heading in the right direction. Mostly Harmless has turned back from the coast of France and is currently in Falmouth. We hope all is well aboard. Puma was considering pulling in to the French port of Brest last night after rounding Ushant, to grab some rest and continue in daylight, but the tracker shows that they have soldiered on and are now doing really well. The race rules state that a competing yacht can stop at a port, so long as the crew remain aboard and still be able to re-start without penalty.
The wind seems to have abated a little and is coming directly from the west. This respite from the very uncomfortable conditions yesterday will be met with open arms, but it is still gusty, and the sea state is described as very rough. The forecast suggests that it is still 5-7 occasionally gale force 8 at times, so even though the wind has died a little it is still pretty windy!
British Soldier seem to have stolen a march on Pen Azen over night as they had a better direct route around Ushant and gained valuable miles there. The German 56 footer Norddeutsche Vermoegen are still leading and are heading across the bay towards the north western tip of Spain, Cape Finisterre.
It is interesting to note here that Puma Logic is the smallest yacht left in the field now, and sailed by people who have never experienced anything like this before. Although Brian (nicknamed 'Shumey') is our offshore racing protégé at the tender age of 68, all the crew are from normal walks of life. We have Alice, a 59 year old Bank Executive from London , who originally signed up to do the RORC Cowes-La Rochelle Race. We persuaded her that racing to Madeira would be much more fun....I am not really sure what she thinks of us now!
Whilst writing these reports over the last couple of days, I have been overcome with a tremendous feeling of deja-vu. This time last year the Fastnet Race was decimated by a violent storm in the Channel, and the year before, Puma was competing in the non-stop Round Britain and Ireland Race and had gales on the nose for most of the 14 days it took to circumnavigate our islands. It's pretty spooky to think that this is the third year in a row that the conditions have been severe at sea over the same few days, in the same area.
Unfortunately we have no news of conditions onboard the other yachts at the moment, but will update you of any news later on today.
posted by Sailing Logic at 9:02 AM
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Well if the weather is anything to go by here in our offices in Southampton, then spare a thought for Puma Logic out in the thick of it today in the English Channel.
Philippe made contact this lunchtime via our Satellite phone to say that all is well onboard although the yacht and everyone was very wet and very tired after a bit of a pasting during the night.
No real news as they are 'just getting on with the job', but it's not pleasant sailing conditions. I think Philippe was making me read between the lines of the conversation, but I gather that there is a very large sea running, and the wind has increased to over 40 knots this afternoon gusting up to 50 which is particularly strong. Puma Logic is holding up well, and before the yacht tacked back South this afternoon, the yacht was sailing with the no.4 jib only, after taking down the main. This is a sail preserving tactic, as there is still a very long way to go to Madeira.
News from the rest of the fleet is that it seems there are another 2 yachts retiring or heading for port. Jamaica Clipper (Clipper 68) has set a course for Penzance in the last 2 hours and our friends on Kerlaria (Open 40) seem to be heading back up the Channel to the Solent. The guys on board are sailing 2 handed, and with the weather and sea state they have been experiencing, might have decided that enough is enough before heading into the Bay of Biscay.
The Class 0 yacht Norddeutsche Vermoegen seem to be heading around the Isle de Ushant at the moment and are the first yacht to pass but as they are a 56 footer, this should be expected!
Puma Logic has tacked back onto a southerly course this afternoon and are heading straight to Ushant. Their speed suggests that they have rehoisted the main and are speeding along at 8.60 knots, the fastest on the 4pm schedule.
The weather model at the moment suggests that the winds that were meant to be abating later on this evening and overnight seem hell bent on staying put, and the MET Office has conditions as Gale force 8 where all the fleet are at the moment.
Please be reassured that Puma Logic as well as her sister ship, Jaguar Logic, have many times raced through weather such as this and are very strong little yachts. The crew have we believe raced and sailed more miles together than any other yacht in this race and we know they are very capable of getting through this with a little detemination and I would assume much gritted teeth. On the yacht the conditions will not be pleasant; the crew may have been able to get a hot meal down them as they were sent off with 3 main meals pre-prepared. Thai green chicken curry with noodles was on the menu for last night, and chicken chasseur was tonights gastronomic delight but it may come down to eating snacks and drinking tea until the weather starts to be a little kinder. The crew will be well into their watch system by now, with 4 crew being on watch and 4 in their bunks, changing over every 3 hours. Most things on board are shared such as bunks, sleeping bags and toiletries and there is very little room for any privacy or quiet...
Jamaica Clipper seem to have tacked back away form the Cornish Coast and are heading back across the Channel in the general direction of Ushant so it seems that they either had a technical problem or decided that Madeira was a better destination than Penzance! Mostly Harmless (Prima 38) seem to have set a course back across the English Channel towards the Solent but it may be that they have had a local wind shift making them tack unfavourably to get enough north in to then tack back again and lay the rhumb line to Ushant.......all very exciting stuff!
posted by Sailing Logic at 5:25 PM
Overnight there has been some interesting developments.
Puma Logic has continued her race at a steady pace, the wind has started to increase as predicted and the two Class 2 yachts, Change of Course and Ultreia, have headed back to Plymouth. We don't know yet if they have retired or are effecting repairs but time will tell.
So back to the racing, Pen Azen seems to be leading the four Class 1 yachts at the moment, but Puma Logic was first to tack away form the course to Ushant when the wind came round and started to head them. This means that they were unable to lay the direct course to the next mark, which is Isle de Ushant (off the Brittany coast near Brest). They will follow this non-making course until they can lay the course and then they will tack back again. It seems that British Soldier, and Pen Azen have followed them with this tactic. The yachts should reach Ushant sometime later this evening.
Just a quick check to let you know who the crew are:
Philippe Falle - Skipper
David Bright (Brighty) - Mate
Francisco Azevedo (Chico)
Brian is probably the most experienced offshore sailor we have on the crew of Puma (apart from Skipper Philippe and Dave Bright who have both raced around the world). Brian first sailed with Sailing Logic on the 2005 Fastnet Race (where Puma Logic won Class 1) and since then has competed on Puma in the non-stop Round Britain and Ireland Race 2006, Fastnet 2007 and then Madeira Race this year. Brian also happens to be the most mature crew on board Puma, and we think in the whole race at the tender age of 68...go Brian!!
posted by Sailing Logic at 9:47 AM
Monday, 11 August 2008
Although the support rib failed to materialise after the driver slept in (!) disappointment for the shore crew has been replaced by smiles as Puma stormed out of the Eastern Solent through the Needles, neck and neck with the other 3 yachts in her class, Pen Azen (J122), Mostly Harmless(Prima 38) and the Army's British Soldier(Archambault 40). All 4 yachts have been battling together all season in the RORC Offshore race series, so this race in particular will I am sure be a very close and tactical one.
The weather this morning was 10-15 knots westerly, meaning a couple of tacks required to get to the Needles and then some interesting tactical decisions required during this afternoon as when to tack, to get down the English Channel.
The first mark of the course is to leave Alderney, Burhou and the Casquets to Port, which the yacht should reach sometime during the night.
Right now, on board, watch systems will not have started, the whole crew bar mainsheet trimmer and genny trim will be on the rail, trying to flatten out the yacht and make her go as quick as possible. With the weather forecast, it will be upwind and unconfortable sailing for the next 48-72 hours and then going through the Bay of Biscay the wind should become a more constant westerly, giving the yachts a chance to crack off a little although the sea state will be still pretty rough.
posted by Sailing Logic at 1:52 PM
Well......what a busy weekend, and now all is quiet.
A whirling hurricane of human energy has been passing through Sailing Logic's offices this weekend. Very busy people getting very anxious ahead of the biggest adventure of their lives.....
All the preparations are complete, all stores and belongings packed away and the yacht is looking in the best shape she has ever been. Admittedly she is a little lower in the water than she is normally but stowing provisions, kit and 10 people for a 10 day race means an awful lot of stuff!
Saturday was spent doing last minute jobs on the yacht such as checking all sails, checking all rigging, re-tuning the rig, cleaning bunk cushions, diving on her hull, looking at the weather models, cleaning EVERYTHING, and then the crew party in the evening. A rather large night ensued, but it was Alice's birthday! Sunday dawned bright and sunny after the torrential rain of the night before and things were starting to take shape. Essential kit started to go on, the seemingly endless jobs list was getting smaller and even the skipper managed a smile....minor miracle! The food was packed up, water put aboard, and then the crews personal belongings. A very small clothing list was given to each crew member, as stowage space is very limited in Puma Logic, no large suitcases allowed!
I write this as we have just waved the yacht off the dock ready for the 9am start this morning.
If you would like to follow the progress of the yacht and also the race, please go to the Royal Ocean Racing Club website - www.rorc.org, and click through on the Cowes Madeira link.
posted by Sailing Logic at 12:26 PM