Better Late than Never

10 December, 2018

Update: After a quiet first seven days we finally have an update from Challenger and it seems Chris and the ARC crew have been hard at work. So far so good on Challenger.

After being delayed arriving at Las Palmas due to heavy conditions on the North Atlantic delivery from Westbrook CT we finally set off on the 2018 ARC route four days after the official event start. Our crew however were not phased having come together as strangers in Las Palmas,they had knitted into a tight team who had faced the stress of watching the fleet leave without them and not been shaken in their dedication to making 2018 the year they finally crossed the pond! Setting off having only given Challenger 20hrs to rest – we agreed to deal with the event as though we had set off on time, no motoring and no outside assistance etc. We headed South first of all to clear the infamous dead wind area around the Canaries and then faced our first decision about which route to take. The ARC event is well suited to displacement yachts with spinnaker pokes who can put their boom way out on one side and spinnaker pole out to the other side and blow dead down wind aiming straight for St. Lucia from a point literally 20Nm South of the Start line. Challenger however, as a more modern race boat has a bowsprit and asymmetrical spinnakers rather than a spinnaker pole and symmetrical spinnakers and it is (2/2) much harder for her to proceed dead downwind. Instead she fares best if the wind is over the aft quarter or forward towards the beam-ie between 140-100 apparent wind angle. To set this up correctly with the available weather pattern we headed South from Gran Canaria for 12 hrs until we hooked into a likely looking North North Easterly (NNE) breeze & then we gybed and started to head West and a little South. All of that time spent going South did not contribute in anyway.

To our progress towards the finish line so unfortunately the boats ahead of us moved another half day ahead before we could really set up a decent angle. The key to understanding our situation here is to remember that this is an amateur crew who are having to learn Challenger and learn how to helm such a boat and develop those skills quickly applying them first to jobs, then small spinnakers, then progressively more powerful set ups all the time with an eye to safety and the limitations of previous experience. What this crew have been able to do in the available time has been amazing and since we took that turn west they have come in leaps and bounds and are all now helming under spinnaker day and night.

So, what of the fleet? Well, we started to overtake people two days ago and as we stand now we are (in terms of distance to finish) level pegging with Seren’. The boats ahead of us are all doing 6kts or so but because of our careful positioning we are sittng on 9, 10, 11 kts and should therefore reeling a great number of other boats in the next few days. We are all SUPER excited and pumped!!!

Challenger and crew are well

Chris