Race report 5: Europa consolidates her lead

14 October 2013

Race report 5: Europa consolidates her lead
Europa (Netherlands) has come through the stormy conditions to be nearly thirty miles ahead of her nearest rival Sprit of New Zealand (New Zealand) and remains first on corrected time (handicap). 

Tecla (Netherlands) is a further 12 miles behind, but is the vessel sailing the fastest in the fleet at the moment - and as the conditions are getting lighter, Tecla is beginning to close to close the gap.   
 
The weather forecast is indicating 48 hours of light to moderate south westerly winds before a high pressure develops off Cape Reinga  which could mean further changes in placings as the light and variable winds open up opportunities for the captains and navigators in the final stages of the race.
 
The latest top three placings on corrected time are:
 
1st Europa
2nd Tecla
3rd Spirit of New Zealand
 
Mick Millis, Communications Officer aboard Young Endeavour (Australia) reports, “The front has cleared but it has turned very cold, 13C here. The wind is SSW 18 knots and we are doing 7.5 knots  with every piece of canvas up.  The fleet seem  to be happy. We’ve got 300 to 350 miles to go to Cape Reinga, so the early birds could start finishing Friday evening.”

Captains log from Picton Castle (Canada)
 
Monday 14 Oct 2013: Winds in the Tasman Sea
 
We've heard stories of Picton Castle being a tough sea-going sailing ship, but now we know first-hand and have our own stories to tell.
 
After sailing from Sydney Harbour in the company of 15 other ships, six of us are continuing on to New Zealand as part of the Tall Ships Regatta. A race from Sydney to Opua?  Aboard Picton Castle? We didn't have any grand expectations of racing. We aren't really a fast ship. The Captain says towing an almost six foot prop does not add to our speed under sail in spite of the ship's medium clipper lines. Still as our slogan goes, "We may be slow, but we get around!"
 
It was good fun to see other sailing ships on the horizon that first day out. But by the next morning they were out of sight. Our first couple days at sea we had fairly light winds and were sailing along at a whopping 1-2 knots. Of course with our new trainees on board there were more than just a couple of green faces clutching the leeward rail. Then just when the seasickness was subsiding, the Captain musters us for a talk on the weather to come. Expecting 30-35kts of wind overnight and maybe more. Wow! Hold on to your hats folks!
 
There are things to do to prepare us and the ship for a gale. Double gasket some of the lighter sails to make sure they stay stowed, close all the hatches and make sure they are dogged down good and tight, close the water tight doors in case any big waves come busting over the rail, lash the things in your bunk and sleeping areas to make sure things don't tumble around, and most importantly, get some sleep while you can. When the seas get lumpy it can be hard to get a good night's sleep. The swells don't just toss around our belongings, they toss us around in our bunks too!
 
The wind and swells started picking up in the late afternoon, making simple things like eating and cleaning up after dinner take much longer and much more effort than normal. But we aren't in a rush. Slow and steady does it.
 
We don't just walk with our legs, we use our hands too in case our feet slip. We rig up man ropes across the main deck and the quarter deck to hold on to and clip into if necessary. Everyone must wear a harness on deck at all times to clip in on deck if needed. Overnight we did everything in pairs.
 
For most of the night watch we keep everyone up on the quarterdeck near the helm. Captain's orders were that no one was to cross the main deck as it sometimes had waves coming over the rail. To get from the forward part of the ship to the quarterdeck for watch, we file through the hold and engine room below decks and come up the charthouse ladder, so we could walk from one end of the ship to the other in perfect safety. It was designed this way on purpose.
 
Standing on the quarterdeck, I must say some of the waves were bigger than anything I ever saw sailing around the world with Picton Castle in 2010-2011. Such conditions aren't at all typical, particularly in the Tropics, which is often where Picton Castle sails. And all of us know that this ship has spent many years plying the North Sea and North Atlantic. She can handle this. The question was, could we?
 
Our new trainees were definitely up for the job. Being on helm was especially tough. Steering isn't easy with swells bashing us around. But staying on course is important so we don't get knocked by waves on our beam and rip any sails. We can ride them out much more nicely from the quarter. After a four-hour watch everyone was pretty much knackered, so straight to our bunks we went.
 
Waking up this morning, the wind and swell had calmed down quite a bit. We had steady winds of 35 knots for most of the night, with gusts blasting up to 40-45 knots. Back down to 25-30 knots in the morning seemed like nothing in comparison. The ship was fine, and we were fine. Nothing broken and no injuries to report. Onwards to New Zealand! I just hope it warms up a bit. Cold as anything out here!

Crew log from Young Endeavour (Australia)

Monday 14 October 2013: The sun has got his hat on and it sometimes comes out to play.
 
When we sailed from Sydney it was 38c, its now 13c. We are still on the same latitude, but now have the influence of the Antarctic current, and the winds that circulate up from that area bringing the cool and sometimes viscous fronts, or mini storms, that they call 'busters' down here.
 
Over the last  four days the ships have experienced the full range of fronts, busters, torrential rain and mountainous seas. We are 500 miles from both Australia and the North Cape of New Zealand and the Tasman sea is trying its best to make it a difficult passage.
 
The wind is now steady in the SSW, 15-25 knots and despite the high, confused seas, progress is good towards our goal, New Zealand. The morale of the young crew is remarkable, coming from all of life but gelling as a team superbly.
 
Follow the fleet
For live tracking follow the fleet here.

Race results
Keep up to date with the latest race results here. 

Photo: Europa

- ends -

For more information contact Sally Titmus, Communications and Marketing Manager, Sail Training International, Charles House, Gosport Marina, Mumby Road, Gosport, Hampshire, UK  PO12 1AH  

Tel: +44 (0) 23 9258 6367   Email: sally.titmus@sailtraininginternational.org

Editor’s notes:

What is sail training?
Sail Training is an adventure activity, which includes far more than sailing instruction. Participants are required to confront demanding challenges, both physical and emotional. It is an activity that inspires self-confidence and personal responsibility. It promotes an acceptance of others, whatever their social or cultural backgrounds, and develops a willingness to take controlled risks. Those who undertake Sail Training on Tall Ships generally find it a positive life-changing experience.

A two-minute film can be seen here.

About Sail Training International (STI)
STI is the international voice of Sail Training, a registered charity (not-for-profit organisation), which has worldwide membership and activities. Its purpose is the development and education of young people through the Sail Training experience, regardless of nationality, culture, religion, gender or social background. It organises the annual Tall Ship Races and other international Tall Ship sailing events. STI members are 29 national Sail Training organisations around the world and STI’s head office is in Gosport, Hampshire, UK.

The organisation was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 for its work in promoting international understanding and friendship.



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