Steady as she goes

Steady as she goes

G'day supporters,

This afternoon (December 8), we left the Southern Ocean, heading northwards toward our destination of Geraldton, only 1500nm distant.

The racing has been fast and furious the whole way, with only 120nm separating the top seven yachts. We are currently in second place, having been overtaken two days ago by the overall race leaders, Team Finland.

Before that, we lead the race for 1100nm through the Southern Ocean, with the bonus of crossing our mid-race scoring gate first, giving us a valuable three-point boost to our scoreboard.

Our Southern Ocean passage has been a very easy one for us. We have stuck to our guns and sailed very conservatively, reefing down early and using our small headsails as much as we can.

So far, we have had no breakages or sail damage, which is a big goal of ours after the damage we did to our sails on the last leg from Brazil to South Africa.

Onboard Spirit of Australia, we are firm believers in the philosophy that you don't win a race, you lose a race. You lose it by making mistakes, pushing too hard and breaking things, hence our conservative approach on this leg.

The next big tactical decision is coming up in two days time for us. The Western Australian high is sitting just off the coast of WA, directly between ourselves and Geraldton.

This large area of very light wind will definitely mix things up… 120nm is a tiny gap to close, if you have wind and the other boats don't, so the race is still very much up for grabs.

I am spending the majority of my time at the moment at the nav computer, running through the weather maps and pressure predictions, trying to find the best way through the light stuff.

Racing aside, this leg has been a great one for the team in terms of confidence building and team development. This group of amateur sailors, many of whom had never sailed before clipper training are handling the boat in a very sensible and seamanlike fashion, in one of the most
dangerous oceans in the world.

I have delegated most of the sail-plan decisions to them and they make the right calls at the right times, only coming to me for consultation if they are unsure of something.

When changing a sail or reefing, I am rarely on deck, the crew are getting so practiced and slick at the routine sail evolutions.

All going well, we should be in Geraldton between the 14th and 18th of December and are looking forward to the amazing reception and warm Aussie welcome our home port will give the fleet.

Time for a midnight cuppa.

Brendan and the Spirit of Australia crew.

Photo: Skipper Brendan Hall at the wheel of Spirit of Australia.