Morehead optimistic on board Spirit

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  • Spirited effort: Spirit of Bermuda leaves Antigua for home

    Spirited effort: Spirit of Bermuda leaves Antigua for home


Captain Mike Morehead’s noon Sunday report from Spirit of Bermuda was full of optimism, even though they have been steering by emergency tiller since the first night. Not to worry, That is the way the original Bermuda Sloops were designed.

“Spirit had a great 24-hour run with the spinnaker flying much of the time.” Morehead said. ”Eleanora [the largest yacht in the fleet] passed us to leeward last night at sunset with both of us flying our spinnakers in eight knots of wind.”

Spirit of Bermuda continued fine sailing through Sunday as the East Southeast breeze has allowed the crew to fly their Black Seal spinnaker for much of the last 24 hours from Saturday noon to Sunday noon.”

“Clear skies and beautiful trade winds freshened this morning and as the wind veered to the east southeast, we were able to set the spinnaker again. All crew is enjoying the fun of steering by our emergency tiller as our steering gear failed two nights ago. An original Bermuda Sloop would have had a tiller and we are finding it quite easy to handle and enjoying the responsiveness.”

Offshore sailors always have their minds on food and the crew aboard Spirit are no different.

“Great food continues to come out of the galley,” Morehead said. “But alas, we are still without a fresh fish.”

Spirit was steering a course of 015 degrees at seven to eight knots in ten to 12 knots of wind. They sailed 168nm an average of seven knots towards home from noon Saturday to Sunday. With 615 miles to go their estimated time of arrival would be in about 3½ days.

The US Merchant Marine Academy Volvo 70 Warrior, chartered by Stephen Murray of Metairie, Louisiana, continues to lead the fleet gybing on the downwind shifts and making a good eight to nine knots heading as close to North as possible. Yesterday afternoon they were sailing dead downwind and trying to make the most of it.

Warrior and the 78ft catamaran Allegra were both about 500 miles out of Bermuda yesterday afternoon. Allegra was right on the rhumbline and Warrior just two dozen miles to the west.

Between yesterday afternoon and noon today, the fleet should have some areas of light and shifty winds but mostly a eight to ten knots of breeze from the south southeast, swinging through the south to the south southwest by this morning.

The fleet leaders may see the breeze build to above 15 kts as they head North straight up the rhumbline or a little to the west to catch the fresher breeze first.

Early yesterday morning Les Crane on Monterey reported east winds at ten knots. The sea was flat and light clouds were in the sky.

“The four Bermuda boats have been together throughout Saturday.” Crane wrote. “Morning Star and Monterey who had both motored Friday night had passed IRC racer Freya who was tacking in light air. When the breeze filled in Saturday, Morning Star and Monterey resumed sailing and Freya started reeling them in and now leads the way. Spirit remains to the East. Smooth sailing Saturday night. Near full moon makes a pretty sight.

Hermes’ skipper Morgan Watson, of Calgary, Canada, and his team reported a gorgeous evening. “We’ve had some decent breeze to keep us going, and a nearly cloudless night speckled with stars and rising celestial bodies that look like masthead lights! Quite enchanting once you got past the initial alarm.”

“We’ve waited all morning to get BBB flying again as our angle had been too hot to carry her overnight. Finally we were able to put her back up this morning and started seeing eight to nine knots boat speeds. A little more excitement this morning as a sperm whale and her calf bobbed up just ten feet from our port beam. Certainly gave Morgen O Canada flashbacks as he was driving past with so little clearance! Luckily we stayed clear this time and got to enjoy this rare sighting.”

The Hermes team had earlier reported a challenging evening on day two. “We held onto a course towards Bermuda until it became apparent that we might get for ever stuck in a wind hole.” Watson said. “We gybed off and began heading northwest with some other members of the fleet just to keep making miles somewhere.”

“Hermes needed to dig deep to fight fatigue and stay focused as our BBB kite barely stayed filled at night with winds of one to four knots. Dawn broke and we finally caught a bit of a break. Although, our performance has been a bit misleading as we’re uncertain if our competitors around us are motoring or not [allowed by CSA with penalty].”

“But we were match racing a Pogo 40S this morning as we returned to making good miles to Bermuda, while our fellow Pogo headed more west presumably to catch better weather. With five to six knots of wind, we’ve been able to match or exceed wind in boat speed. Hoping we catch better breeze.”

On Esprit de Corps IV the word of the day is speed!

The skipper, Gilles Barbot, likes to end the day by asking the crew members to summarise theirs in three words. “Speed”, “mast” and “fun” are those who have come to their minds first.

For speed, no doubt. Sailing at 10 knots with spikes to 12, the Volvo Ocean Racer doubled the Eleonore E and the Spirit of Bermuda at sunset one after the other.

The red and white monohull, with three hoisted sails ­— a reacher, a staysail and the mainsail — swallows miles without any flinching. The day had begun badly. At dawn, a recalcitrant spike forced the captain to climb the mast to the vane to try to unhook it. The large carbon mast gave up after nearly an hour, Leaving the monocoque straight ahead to the north. Now at 12.2 knots as the moon rises, the night looks promising.

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Published May 15, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated May 14, 2017 at 11:53 pm)

Morehead optimistic on board Spirit

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