Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Slow Arrival

The light winds are making my approach home VERY slow. I'm trying to be patient, but it is highly frustrating! It looks like an afternoon arrival if I can keep up my meager 3 knots. I'll try and update all watching here on the blog and at http://www.facebook.comteamlazarus/. You can get text alerts to my ETA at the line and on the dock by emailing charleston@velux5oceans.com with your name and cell phone. Cheers!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Headed for Home

It’s the night before I finish ocean sprint 4 of the VELUX 5 Oceans race. This leg has been trying and unpredictable, with the wild thunderstorms and flying fish off Brazil and the unreliable weather reports which make for hard decision making in any scenario. The weather that came through Charleston Race Week on Saturday and canceled that day of racing, has since moved north up to North Carolina leaving a void of weird weather that the computer models can’t seem to figure out. It was very frustrating for a while, but I am finally in some breeze and truckin’ along.

As of right now it looks like I may cross the line at around 0900 local time on Tuesday. It will be so great to be home! I look forward to my kids, my wife, my bed, fresh food and a cold beverage. Thanks to all those sponsors and supporters… old and new that have kept us strong throughout this race. Welcome to the South Carolina Ports Authority as a new sponsor!

See you in Charleston soon. Cheers,


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Investment Not Providing Rewards Right Now

I’ve spent a great deal of time the last two weeks comparing weather models and strategically investing in owning the left side of the course. Unfortunately, the reasons I wanted to own it are not panning out. It is frustrating as I would like to have greater lead right now and I fear the weather is going to get really light and inconsistent. The bottom line is I have less wind than was forecast and they have more. So Derek is kicking my butt. While Chris is kicking Derek’s butt. It should all get very interesting as we make our way north. I have been doing a huge amount of sail changes to keep Le Pingouin moving and the girl is holding up well. I have the big gennaker and the main up right now and it is a bit scary. I am powered up and need to be careful. As much as I REALLY want to win this leg 4 ocean sprint into my home town of Charleston, I can’t compromise my race by pushing so hard that I break the boat.

I do think you are looking at two lucky dogs to my right. They both wanted the speed gate points and pushed hard to get them, while I disregarded the speed gate and focused on my positioning to get the best possible weather to reach Charleston first. As it turns out Derek and Chris have instead had better wind patterns for the last 24 hours, and I believe will continue to have better weather for the next 24 as well. We will see what I get handed, but right now I am not very happy about it. I am hoping as we reach up by the Bahamas the weather is not as quirky as it can be.

Congrats to Derek on winning the speed gate and my heart goes out to Gutek with broken ribs and a broken forestay in Brazil. Thanks for checking in and I look forward to seeing everyone in Charleston soon!



Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Doldrums are Real

I am about 100 miles from the equator, trying to work my way north in very light conditions. There are lots of squalls, and I just wish I could hook onto one and get a good run for a few hours. I was hoping for a mild visit with the doldrums, but that does not seem to be the case. I’m nervous to see where I “pop-out” of stealth mode, and where Derek is when he comes out. I am not totally parked, but it is VERY slow and I am tired. I am hoping that at 2 degrees north or so I may be clear of the doldrums and be able to pick up the trade winds… if they exist. This leg is proving trickier than I anticipated and Derek is not letting up at all. My rival and friend obviously really wants to see me off his transom.

I do think the speed gate points may be important to Derek, considering the results of the last ocean sprint. I have sacrificed the speed gate and am completely focused on my routing to Charleston. I am pretty certain I will not win the speed gate this time around, because my mission is not looking at the next 1000 miles, but the next 3000 miles.

I love the fact that Derek is so engaged and competitive this leg. It is nice to be in a tight boat race. It is nice to be in a tight boat race with Derek. He is focused and I am doing the best I can, but I don’t even know where he is!!! Stealth mode is making this all very interesting. I do find it very hard to be in the lead. It feels like I am being hunted down. I’d rather be the predator than the prey, but here I am. The next 24 hours should prove to be interesting. Thanks for checking in.



Friday, April 1, 2011

A Thorough Beating

I have just been through the worst sailing of my career. Seriously, I was almost ready to stop. The last eighteen hours has been back to back thunderstorms and squalls. It was like a bowling alley of them all night long. I’d have 40 knots from the east, then 40 knots from the west, then no wind at all. It was just constant and there was no way to keep up. Le Pingouin kept getting knocked down over and over. I tried hand steering through it dealing with all the sheets and lines as well, and I couldn’t keep up. I just simply could not change direction fast enough. The seas were coming from all directions and it felt like a washing machine. The storms rolled through 1-2-3 and on and on they kept coming in the pitch black night with no moon. In my exhausted state I was just waiting from something bad to happen, because the entire situation was so hard on me and the boat.

In my scurried state of trying to keep some semblance of order, I was standing at the back of the cockpit looking astern in an effort to inspect the rudders because the boat simply wouldn’t steer responsively (it turns out solely because of the incredibly confused sea state), when it felt like Mike Tyson slugged me directly in the back. Not just anywhere on my backside, but exactly where I had 2 extensive back surgeries many years ago to fix herniated discs and dural sack damage. I crumpled over into the cockpit floor in pain while grabbing a line, to then see that it was a massive flying fish (looked more like a flying trout with attitude – and quite an altitude as he hit me about 10 feet above the waterline). As I gathered my thoughts and stood up again, another one came hurdling at me and hit me on the shoulder. I have a nice bruise to prove it. This entire incident or series of incidents left me in pain and concerned about the boat, but also wishing this was all on tape because it was so unbelievable. I know this sounds like an April fools scam but the only one getting messed with was me at the hand of God or Neptune or something like that.

My whole body is sore from the endless winching and work to get through the 16 or so hours of chaos. I feel like I can hardly move. In a 10 hour period I probably tacked 30-40 times and was knocked down 6-8 times. The boat looked like a yard sale gone wrong, with lines and flags dragging behind the boat. There is diesel from the header tank that opened all over the floor down below, so it is like an ice skating rink down here. The heat combined with the diesel just stinks so bad I can hardly stand to go down below, so I did crash on deck for 30 minutes following the trauma and the feeling that I was dangerously close to hallucinating. It will take days to clean all of this up. I am now trying to work my way north and more to the west to remain clear of the huge clouds that create such fiascos and rest as much as the weather allows. From my childhood sailing to now, through dozens of runs in the Gulfstream and 2 ½ circumnavigations alone, I never expected what I experienced last night could happen. I am both stunned and pleased that Le Pingouin made it through without any major damage. I am also praying that the pain in my lower back is a knot of muscle and not something more. I wish I could have provided a picture of the flying trout but he flipped and flopped back into the water before I realized I really wanted to eat him or at least memorialize his back breaking girth. Sometimes facts are stranger than fiction and I swear this is not an April fool’s gag.

Thanks for checking in,