Ocean racing can sometimes feel like playing a computer game, admittedly under a shower and in a bouncy castle, but the point I'm trying to make is that it’s a long solitary enterprise and we mostly interact with our competitors as dots on a screen that are hundreds of miles away in reality. Recently however I have had the pleasure of company as Stephane and I were within a couple of miles of each other, I sailed passed Nandor yesterday and finally, Kojiro and I almost ran into each other last night!
As I have mentioned in previous posts, we have a system called AIS (Automatic Identification System) onboard that allows boats to talk to each other electronically and automatically and the system plots the position and course of surrounding boats on my navigation screen. So I saw him coming on AIS and knew the cross would be close, but as he neared I started to think I might have to take avoiding action as he had right of way (racing yachts have a lot of complicated rules about when people have right of way, but basically if one boat is on starboard tack, that is to to say the wind is coming from his right side, he has priority). As it turned out he passed safely 300 metres behind me and I was able to fly my drone over our boats to get some cool photos as we crossed with the sunset in the background.
The plan now for our group is to tack later today and head south and work our way around the edge of a reformed high pressure zone before finally escaping the shifty calms that have defined our passage of the South Atlantic. That means slow going this weekend with a delicate negotiation of the calms on Monday and then full throttle thereafter in the playground of the southern ocean storms that will whip us eastwards. I am already excited about unfurling the storm spinnaker and surfing the huge waves of the south in proper IMOCA 60 conditions. To give you an idea of just how mild things have been so far, I haven't worn a jacket or any type of wet weather gear since before the Cape Verdes! So now it’s time to put away the disgusting UV top and salty shorts and get dressed for the main event!