The ‘nice’ part of this race that we’ve been looking forward to for about 6 months has definitely begun now. As I write we are just passing Madeira about 30-40 miles off, close enough to see this giant rock in quite a lot of detail but hopefully far enough to avoid the worst of its wind shadow. We’ve got 10-15 knots of wind, bright sunshine and regular visits from some of the most acrobatic dolphins we’ve seen so far. Unfortunately they are good at leaping and flipping but also a little camera shy. Sam has been as far as getting his head over the back of the boat to try and get some underwater shots but still no luck yet.
The daily routine now involves a lot less putting on of foul weather gear, changing headsails on the bow and operating at 25 degree of heel. Helming, trimming the spinnaker and hoisting and lowering the genoa as a staysail make watches on deck go a lot quicker and the conditions downstairs mean that we can take food preparation a lot more seriously. Freeze dried meals that were like a soupy mush a few days ago are now mixed with exactly the right quantity of water for perfect consistency and improved with a dash of olive oil, garlic salt of even hot sauce. The sheppards pie we just ate was an absolute treat, and the olive oil lubricates our bowls in a way that means they barely need washing up…
Race wise things will get interesting after the turn at the Canaries tomorrow afternoon, it looks like all the boats will round quite close together, my latest routing has us just 4 minutes behind “Sepalumic” in 6th by the way point. We’ve just watched “Les Recycleurs Bretons” just behind us go through a tiny gap in the rocks off Madeira on the AIS with interest. This seems to be a real specialty of skipper Michel Bothuon’s, in all three Figaro races I’ve done now I have watched him thread through gaps you wouldn’t know were there on the computer screen. So for now we have bit of planning to do with long range weather files ahead of tomorrow’s turn on to the main leg of this race and I need to get some sleep. Yesterday things were so much fun on deck I didn’t get enough sleep done during daylight and paid for it with a couple of tough watches in the wee hours.