Wind against Gulf Stream makes for an uncomfortable first 24 hours

The third and final leg of the Velux 5 Oceans from Norfolk, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain, has got off to a rocky start. The storms that caused the start to be delayed this week have left northeasterlies in their wake, counteracting the reciprocally flowing Gulf Stream, and conditions look likely to remain uncomfortably lumpy over the weekend.

Runaway race leader Bernard Stamm on Cheminees Poujoulat has already pulled into the lead, already miles ahead of second placed Kojiro Shiraishi on Spirit of Yukoh. Koji’s latest log reads:

‘The waves are terrible. The temperature of the water is 18C, it appears we’ve started to ride on the Gulf Stream. Therefore the boat is being carried by the strong current but the opposing winds are making the waves quite hard to sail through. Even adjusting my course slightly did not let me escape from having to punch through the waves. It’s tough going from day 1! Right now, I’m not suffering from sea sickness but my head is feeling a little groggy. I actually want to be traveling a little further north. However I don’t want the boat to take on anymore unnecessary punishment from the punching waves so I’ve stayed on this course. So without a choice I’m having to sailing onwards to the east. Typing is quite difficult, so I can’t write anymore today!’

It seems that, after a Herculean effort to rejoin the race, ill-fated Graham Dalton will not make the start line. Still trying to finish Leg 2 in a race against time, he has been forced to make another pitstop, this time in Bermuda, to make autopilot and genoa repairs. Caught up in the storms, he sustained bad bruising earlier in the week.

Dalton must now honour a 48 hour time penalty in Bermuda for receiving assistance before continuing towards Norfolk, meaning he can’t re-commence racing at 07:00 local time on Saturday April 21. Under race rules, Dalton must arrive in Norfolk by 12:20 local time on Sunday April 22, as skippers are required to spend a mandatory 72 hours in a host port and then re-commence racing on the next leg within 7 days of the official re-start.

Image: Expedition Navigation Systems