Saturday, January 22, 2011

Decompression and Prep to Fly

After more than 7000 miles of open ocean racing in Leg 2 of the Velux 5 Ocean race around the world, it has taken a few days to decompress. The racing from South Africa to New Zealand was unpredictable and weird. Although I expected fierce Southern Ocean winds and seas, they were all coming from the wrong direction and it was not what I expected. I will expand on this later, but there are some very odd and unpredictable things happening in our oceans.

Never to leave you without entertainment, we have found Wellington, New Zealand to be a great place to explore. Team Lazarus has entered the Bird Man competition which involves a challenge of sending one man off the wharf to see how long and high he can fly. Being a pilot myself, the challenge brings in all kinds of history and principles of long ago. Please enjoy this first little glimpse of the Birdman prep…

We chose the lightest member of the team and spent the last 12 hours sourcing helium and the largest balloons available in Wellington. Our brave competitor is John Hicks, who is otherwise known as daily teacher and caregiver to my children Tate and Wyatt. He is from Charleston, South Carolina and never expected to be participating in the Velux race, much less being sent in a lawn chair off the coast of New Zealand with 2000 balloons overhead. We hope his mother will forgive us, but he is well protected and will look good diving off the pierhead. The Birdman is a competition to find the craziest and most creative costume to jump off the Taranaki Street Wharf in Wellington, New Zealand. Learn more about the adventure at More news tomorrow as we try our best to get a member of Le Pingouin to fly!



Monday, January 10, 2011

Sails Up and Ready to Fly

It’s actually quite wonderful sailing at the moment, I’m enjoying a lovely day down here, but unfortunately for the last three days I haven’t had as much breeze as my nearest rivals, Gutek and Derek. They’re killing me!

I’ve been trying to get through this high pressure system and currently have every ounce of sail up. I couldn’t put up another stitch of cloth if I wanted to, unless I took my undies off and hung them from the rig! I must look like a bird from afar with all the sails flying high, but I guess that is appropriate for Le Pingouin. Actually, not so much as penguins are aquatic, flightless birds. I really do want to fly! I can’t do any more to squeeze speed from the boat. It’s good boat racing but it sure is hard work.

I had a pretty good lead coming out of that low pressure area about a week ago and I was watching carefully what was going on in the Tasman Sea. I’ve been pipped at the post here before and I’ve also pipped someone else at the post too so I know the Tasman Sea is a very tactical spot. This high pressure system developed and the worst case scenario happened: it came down from Australia and elongated west of Hobart all the way across to New Zealand. In an effort not get completely parked I moved south pretty quickly. I’m glad I did as it kept me in the game. However, it also consolidated the three of us in a pretty big way.

I’ve been looking really hard at which way to approach Wellington and I think I have more options than the other guys, but the weather really is very difficult to nail down. To be honest I haven’t really decided how I am going to tackle it. Going west might be a good option, but it’s a pretty unconventional route. New Zealand has some huge mountains which really affect the wind. To the east I will get some fairly serious upwind conditions. There are factors here that could really set me back if I get it wrong. There is no doubt, this will be interesting.



Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Chat with Sailing Anarchy from 48 South

As the low pressure system unfolded, I had the chance to talk with my friend at Sailing Anarchy. Here is the interview ... Enjoy!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Heading East in High Seas

All is okay out here.  It is a bit of a sh*&^ fight right now but nothing dangerous I don’t think.  Le Pingouin is hanging in there and I am just trying to go fast enough for the sea state and not too fast, as sliding off the waves sideways truly sucks if you’re going too slow, and jumping off them at 20+ knots boat speed also sucks.  I talked to Derek today and he said he thought Gutek was misunderstood in his message about seeing 70 knots of wind. He thinks the intent was that he had the boat set up for 70 but that they only saw 40.  They are in the eerie center of the low pressure system with very little wind, huge slamming seas and sunshine.  I hate those moments, so hopefully I am far enough east to avoid that super slamming scenario.  The storms in this part of the world come from the west typically and in some cases, like this one, from the north or north west. In any event, the boats to the west see the weather change first.  Derek has been kind enough to stay in touch and keep me informed which is not necessary but very cool.  I think part of the reason we have also been in touch is that no one likes to be alone in a foxhole.  That is a supposition, never having been in a war myself, but I would imagine true.
Holding hands with LP,