The tale of a col

We thought we'd avoided it, we were delighted to have come out of it relatively unscathed, and then it landed right on top of us when we really weren't expecting it. I'm talking about the flat calm and the windlessness, one of our worst enemies, if not the worst. It was at the end of last night, at the point where others in France were savouring the last light of what would doubtless have been a great Sunday. Here the darkness was even darker than usual and the lightning, which was illuminating the sky without a sound all around us, blinded us for long periods. The electrical discharges were incredible and certainly on a par with the power of this immense ocean. A stormy mass slyly buried us in its snare and what was supposed to come, came: not a breath of air, the sails hanging lifeless for the first time since our departure. At the first light of day, we were manoevring every which way to try and escape this sticky situation as quickly as possible.

We needed a good 5 hours to definitively escape this situation in the end, which is symbolic of a ‘col' separating two zones of high pressure. We went from one side to the other and now that's done, the stampede has free rein again. On chaotic, messy seas, we're bouncing from wave to wave, lots of manœuvres punctuating the scene once more in order to adapt to the capricious wind, both in strength and direction. We play with the staysail or the solent, with a reef or without, it's a generous partition. This downwind ride will enable us to link up with a tropical low, which we're expecting from tomorrow onwards. It's this system which will bridge the gap and it should enable us to arrive in Japan with a burst of speed. By rounding it in the right direction to the north, we're going to continue to sail downwind. The seas should build, the wind possibly filling to as much as 60 knots. This feisty finish suits us down to the ground. Anything is good except for the flat calm and our other worst enemy, namely close-hauled conditions, with headwinds !

Until tomorrow

Nicolas Raynaud

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