Date: May 4, 06:00 GMT
Position: 55 50 S 167 59 E
Speed: 20.1 knots
Course: 102 Degrees True
Wind Conditions: NNE 35-50 knots
Tony Bullimore reported yesterday that the staysail halyard on his 102 ft. catamaran Doha, snapped overnight. Luckily, he managed to retrieve the sail from the sea, but lost some ground, and in the process, fell into a lighter wind area.
"It was devastating", Tony reported today when 434 miles due South of Bluff Harbour on New Zealand’s South Island. "Doha was doing around 20-24 knots when there was a bang and the staysail fell in the water. This is one of the real workhorse sails in heavy weather and it took me an hour to pull it back onboard. It seems that the top swivel eye on the furling system has failed, for part of the fitting was still attached to the headsail. The other part is still up the mast. It all seemed to happen in a flash. When it happened, I had a single reefed mainsail and the staysail up and Doha was charging along at 20 knots.The damage has cost some time. I had to bear off for several hours and sailed into a lighter wind pattern, but we are now back up to speed again."
Lee Bruce, Team Bullimore’s weather router explains: "The slowdown caused Tony to fall off the backside of the strong north wind. That isn’t necessarily bad, since he had to sail deeper than planned and can use more west in the wind which has allowed Tony to make up the ground lost. The lighter wind also came as a welcome relief while Tony sort things out."
For the moment, the loss of the staysail from Doha’s wardrobe is covered by a larger Solent headsail, but that is for lighter winds. Tony explained today. "This sail can cover some of the work the staysail would do but l cannot carry it in high winds. It is too powerful and l have got to be careful that l don’t lose this sail as well! Once l get round Cape Horn and in to the lighter winds of the South Atlantic, the problem will not be too much of a handicap. Then I will be carrying maximum sail area and the staysail will not be missed."
Lee Bruce has forecast 35 knots Northerly winds, gusting to 45-50 knots by 12:00 GMT today which may force Tony below 54 S. After this the wind should back to a more comfortable NE 25-35 knots gusting to 40 knots. This will allow Tony to flatten Doha’s course to more easterly route - conditions that are likely to hold right through to May 6. This is good news as far as the Blue Ocean Wireless record challenge, because in is likely to keep Doha ahead of Dame Ellen MacArther’s current 71 day 14 hour record after the first week at sea.