We have just hit peak Northiness, 20 degrees and a little bit south of the equator. Twenty minutes ago we put in a gybe so we catch the Easterly trades on our port (left) side, and this is quite possibly how things may stay all the way to Rio. We are likely to stay deep in the trades for another two days before decisively pointing the bow toward Cabo Frio, the usual landfall on this route.
The next few days will be interesting. While I’ll be sad to leave the bath-hot royal blue sea (30+ degrees today in the pool), it will be good to see other life forms again. We haven’t seen a bird since a few days out from Cape Town, and other than that one Dorado and despite experiments with lures and lines, have caught nothing.
Also, nearing the Brazilian Coast are enormous oil fields, marked ‘to be avoided’, that competitors in previous races have described with awe. And in the stretch between Trinidade (which we will leave on our right hand side but likely too far to see) and Cabo Frio, we will get some quite heavy winds. Which, may be some kind of relief. The trades have been rather weak – around 10-12 knots, not the 15-16 we anticipated. And those five missing knots make a huge difference to our speed. (And have also resulted in us about to suffer an imminent wine crisis!)
Last night, just before diving into Ollie’s Best Boat Pizza Ever (think Col’cacchio’s ‘carne’ but oh so much better) I downloaded the weather forecast as per usual and fed it into the routing software on my tablet (shout out to sailgrib, an awesome app for Android-using sailors – worth every cent, and more).
What came out can only be described as a Big Balsy Move – turn immediately and make for Rio. We discussed this as the crew last night and decided that while we could see that the machine was trying to get us to do different, too many horror stories of promised winds not materialising with consequent becalming meant that we should not take the risk of a solid second place. Are we a boat for which winning is the only and every thing? The answer is no. And that is the way we all want it to be.