By Richard Crockett
One has to continue to marvel at modern technology, especially the YB Trackers, which bring the race live to so many followers the world over. Back in the old days when the South Atlantic Races were big attractions, the SA Navy would provide a Guard-ship to follow the fleet and act as communications vessel for the yachts to report in to on a daily basis via SSB (Single Side Band) radio, providing their position and an opportunity to pass info on to the media contingent aboard.
It was slow, cumbersome and did not always work as planned. The info came out on a printed computer spreadsheet some hours later (there’s a separate post of an example from the 1973 race). But now one simply views the race at 4-hourly intervals and is able to get a really good picture as to what is happening out there in the South Atlantic as they provide so much information.
Last evening the big dogs, ‘Maserati’ and ‘Love Water’, were shadowing each other while sailing at a shade under 30 knots of boat speed and less than 4nm apart. One could also see that parts of the fleet were going to get some big wind – and that the gentle ride until then was going to become wild and wet.
So how has the fleet fared since the 18h00 report last evening?
The big dogs dived very deep and were within 80nm of the rhumb line route from Cape Town to Rio. The rhumb line of course being the shortest distance, and certainly not the fastest route to take. The 10h00 tracker update shows these two having sailed even closer to the rhumb line – now being 40nm off. Will they cross to the south of it?
There’s good chance they will as they eye a weather system to the south, but as always, time will tell.
The northern and southern fleets continue to converge, and in terms of monohull handicap honours it’s the southerners who have the upper hand at the moment, hogging the top six spots. It’s ‘Mussulo’, ‘Saravah’, ‘Zulu Girl’, ‘Haspa Hamburg’, ‘Ballyhoo Too’ and ‘Almagores II’ in that order, with ‘JM Busha 54′ from the northern fleet showing the way in 7th spot.
There has been an on-going duel between ‘Mojie’ and ‘JM Busha 54′ for days now, and could cross tracks again later today. The youngsters on ‘JM Busha 54′ are sailing really well and are constantly faster and further than ‘Mojie’ which is 5-feet longer. 205nm in 24 hours is good going for a 35-footer, and this young team will be relentlessly attacking all the way to the finish.
The southern fleet have had some 30-knot plus winds for some hours now, and look to hold those for another 12 or more hours yet. Many will gain advantages, but some might crack at the pressure and relentless water rushing over the deck as they speed along. Unless total concentration is maintained by all on deck, there could be some thrills and spills to report on.