Final approach to Antigua
Friday 22 February
So, rather predictably the wind has shut down as we make our final approach towards the finish line.
The reach to North Sails was uneventful. The wind was too far forward to carry the asymmetric spinnaker but we were managing 8-9 kts quite happily with the boat in reasonable order. Remarkably the buoy was lit and we picked it up about 2 miles out, where we had left it 3 and a half days ago! The gybe arounfd the mark was tidy, but we set the asymmetric kite only to find the wind had dropped a little and gone further right, so the angle was too deep for the A sail. So down it came and up went Big Blue. Then followed some of the most glorious sailing I have ever done. A warm breeze of 15 knots and a clear night with a few scattered clouds and half a moon lighting the water. Realising our chance of collecting any chocolates had gone we were now having an enjoyable sail in perfect conditions. The run down to Redonda was idyllic. Finding Redonda was a little trickier than the North Sails mark as the race committee had failed to light the island. It is also not where the Navionics charts say it is. Eventually we sailed a tidy course round the island passing through quite a tricky wind shadow close in with a challenging back eddy, but managed to keep our way through momentum and found the new breeze on the other side. Hardening up initialy on port we went about 20 minutes before tacking onto starboartd for 3 hours in flat water but only 10-12kts of breeze so speeds were rather down.
Everyone is looking forward to the finish and a shower and some rum - not necessarily in that order. The banter has started in earnest and we have been recording some good chat on the GoPro as we try to keep the boat moving as the wind is shutting down now to 8-9kts. Selene is a heavy lump to get going in these conditions with the cruising sails, so yet another problem for us.
Final verdict - A challenging race with constant changes of gear and many corners that have kept us on our toes. No-one has had any time to read or do anything other than try to keep the boat moving well at all times. An achievement in itself. Superb boathandling, with no errors and no issues with any sail changes or gybes.A great crew and a pleasure to sail with you all.
This is a tough race, more demanding tactically and physically than the Fastnet, and more enjoyable as we are always in sight of some exotic Caribbean island or other. Certainly one to repeat. A pity about our delay behind Guadeloupe. Had it not been for that we may have done quite well, but we have still had a great sail and I have no doubt the gnarly moments will be amplified in the bar and the discomfort and heat will cease to be so vivid and will no doubt fade with the gunwhale bum and sweat rash.
Thank you RORC for a great race, cant wait for the party tonight.
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