By Sam Goodchild
One week into the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre - Here's a little on how it's going.
As always, these Transats begin with a rough, windy start. Leaving Le Havre, we drifted across the start line in no wind but after the inshore leg we were fairly quickly reaching due West for the first of three depressions, putting reefs in and smaller and smaller sails up, the closer we got. Having not passed to the North of a depression before, we were intrigued to see how it went. It didn't seem so simple for everyone, but we much preferred the light winds/big wave gybing option, compared to the more classic, upwind tacking on the cold front option. Highly recommended from us if you have a choice.
Since then, we have basically been going South through two more low pressure systems and everything from 10 to 50 knots of wind. Our priority has been to keep the boat in one piece and make it to the finish of this race. Like almost all boats, we have had a few breakages but for the most part, it is in good shape. I have finally made it to the trade winds! - having tried and failed 2 times already in the TJV, it's a great feeling. Sun hats, sun cream and sunglasses all came out for the first time today. We've put the spinnaker up and are still heading South.
In terms of our preformance, we have fallen off the pack of the boats of our generation, but we're still happy to keep plugging away, discovering the IMOCA and trying to keep errors to a minimum. There's been a lot to learn: coming from smaller boats, or my bigger boat experience being fully-crewed, where keeping on top of sail changes and problems is a lot more manageable. I'm finding it hard to find the balance between risk, breakage and performance. As a result, we're spending a lot of the time either under-powered, worried about breaking something or both. I'd love to see how the experienced guys at the front keep on top of it all.
Onboard things are well, Eric is a very good comunicator; which makes him very easy to get on with and work with. Although this comes less naturally to me, I'm trying my best to do the same and our communication is helping us both carefully but surely discover this new type of boat and sailing. We've had a good DIY day, getting on top of the small jobs that got put aside in the rough weather and looking for anything we'd missed. All these, including a trip up the rig this morning, has taken it out of us. So we're trying to catch up on a bit of sleep; while managing a mammoth sized spinnaker and the inevitable trade wind squall clouds.
We'll keep trucking South. All for now