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Kip Stone sailing downwind on Day 5

Nov 3, 2006

On Day 5 of the Route Du Rhum, Kip Stone on Artforms, currently leading in Monohull Class 2, reflects on his weather strategy so far:

"Early yesterday, I gybed away from my competitors in order to accelerate the effects of a slowly clocking breeze. It never feels right to sail away from the mark, but two hours in the “wrong” direction are paying off handsomely as I’m now riding a solid 18-20 knot breeze carrying me directly and rapidly towards the top of a low sliding up past the Azores. Angling to the right of the low as I start getting closer will give me nice following breeze towards Guadeloupe. Anyone caught on the wrong side of the system is going to have a tougher time.

"I’ve had the spinnaker up since 0200 which is giving me nice downwind speeds. However, at 20 knots we’re getting close to the limit of how much the pilot can handle, and I’m on short notice the moment the seas start to get too steep or the breeze too strong. I’ve been slowly catching up on some sleep but several times we’ve come rolling off a big wave and I leap out of the bunk thinking I’ve pushed it too far again. Anyone who has followed my story over the past year or so knows I’ve flirted with this limit more than a few times and, on occasion, left a sail in the drink. It’s easy to know when to put a spinnaker up. It’s more difficult to decide when to take it down.

"I set off from St. Malo (France) with a head cold which made the first few days a bit more challenging, but that’s finally starting to take care of itself. Getting away from the English Channel is always hard and this time was no exception. At Ushant, I was with six other competitors stuck between shipping lanes with no wind with tankers and freighters in every direction. That was bad, but at least it was clear enough to see them all. Earlier that afternoon, the fog rolled in leaving me to track it all on radar and at least a dozen ships passed within four miles, one so close I could hear the engines. I never saw one of them.

"Now, I’m 200 nautical miles off the continental shelf and I finally have a patch of ocean to myself. I’m beginning to settle into a routine on board that splits sleep between night and day and that keeps me grazing in the galley. Kurt Turner and Robyn Brown, the two Artforms employees who joined the shore team for this race, did an excellent job of finding me “foods that taste good.” At this moment, I’m busy munching away on a gourmet salami sandwich grilled with a delicious Reblochon provided by my friends the DeCorbieres. Freeze dried is fine for dinner, but we don’t mess around with lunch on Artforms!

"To track Kip across the Atlantic, go here and then click on 'charts' or 'cartographie' and then select 'monocoques classe 2'. Zoom out to see the whole course. If you want to see the location of all the boats, select 'toutés des categories.'