Rolex Transatlantic 2005: Another One Bites the Dust

Aboard Sariyah May 31, 43 24.20N 37 25.45W. 368 Miles NNW of The Azores, 1,378 miles to the Lizard.

Transat 3

Dan Nerney/rolex

Another gennaker was sacrificed to the gods of sea last night around 10:30 p.m. Big Blue, one of our Quantum kites, took one for the team during a round up in 32 knots of breeze and big, ugly seas. It's too bad, because the blue sail was one of the only colors we see besides monochromatic grays and whites. Luckily (or unluckily), skipper Tim was on the helm again, and the one who instigated its launching. When sailmaker Carol heard the news we heard a selection of Kiwi epithets that the editors of the Oxford English dictionary would be fascinated with. Other than the detonation of Big Blue, things are going well. We're zooming along at a high rate of knots and have been seeing 24-hour mileages over 240 miles for the past day or so. We're on a beam reach and the driving requires lots of strength and concentration, but everybody's psyched about how fast we're going. The degrees of longitude are decreasing rapidly and plans are being made for a blowout in Cowes. Co-skipper Cortie has promised the crew a full-on dinner and drink fest as soon as we hit the dock, we all hope something will be open when we get there. Thanks to how tough the steering is, Ibuprofen is now part of getting ready for one's watch. Kevin swears by an Ibuprofen cream he used during the Olympics, while I'm putting a healthy dent into a king-size bottle of Advil. Shoulders ache after a watch, and 45 minutes is the longest anyone can drive. It's not the wind speed as much as the direction the waves are coming from, slightly abaft the beam. The waves push us high of course, and low of course, and for some helmsmen the proper course is a fleeting target seen only on the way to higher or lower numbers on the compass. "We're pushing a 170-ton cruising boat to its maximum potential," says Tim. "It's not easy to do." Driving has taken on more importance lately because of the competition between watches. Tim and Kevin set the bar high early this morning, clocking 35 miles good toward finish. My B watch topped that with 36, then our token Russian, Kuli, set a phenomenal 14-mile hour, which put his C watch on top with 37 miles made good. Competition is healthy, especially when it gets us to the mark quickly. It's handy having Peter Harken aboard, yesterday the tackle that holds the tack of the mizzen staysail to the front part of the pilot house looked as if it were about to succumb to the huge loads placed on it. The mid-range six-to-one block and tackle looked bad. "The cam plates bent from too much pressure," says Harken. "I fixed it with a large hammer. Ferocious hammering on bent metal put it back in reasonable shape. I also added a couple of extra bits of metal here and there, and lo and behold it actually works." It's 1:15 p.m. Sariyah time, and Tim and Cortie's watch are on duty and rocking out to French disco music while Kevin cheerleads at the top of his lungs. The flavor and style of music will change when we come on in a couple hours, maybe some Neil Young, Coldplay, and some deep reggae dub. Whatever sends us down the pike the fastest. Very early today we were listening to a mix of Monty Python and Chris Rock. The Brit and the Kiwi (Steve and Blair, respectively) knew the Monty Python by heart, while the American (me) knew the best bits of Chris Rock. Dave (Aussie living in Newport) just smiled.