A good day of sailing today. The problems encountered were relatively few (thank God) but our routine inspection of chafe areas and rigging revealed some ongoing issues with the halyards and the strop harness. This rigging is only a fibrous material, although very strong along its length, it can be chewed through quite quickly by small sharp edges of wayward screws or metal plates, of which there are many on a sailboat. The constant back and forth, up and down grind motion of a fast moving sailboat on the ocean are ideal conditions for weak parts to break or fail. The consensus, at the end of the day, was to keep an eye on the strop, not go up the mast, just sail the boat as fast and hard as we could. We had time to make up and miles to put on so we put the peddle to the metal and off we went.
A bit about our skipper and boat owner, John (Mort) Mortimer. He, along with his wife Marie, have prepared String Theory above and beyond our expectation when it comes to boat readiness and provisioning. There is more than enough food to choose from, although we have a set menu there is always the opportunity to improvise and plenty of food to go around. In fact we often found ourselves with more than enough and ended up, shamefully, feeding the fish. Our nightly “grab bags” of snacks (assorted chocolate and granola bars, wagon wheels, gummies, nuts, etc...) were also plentiful and great for that needed bust of energy on the 10 till 2 or 2 till 6 am shifts when it was hard to stay awake.
John, ever the polite Englishman, loves to race. Although he takes good care of his boat, he isn’t afraid to fill the sails and “heat her up” knowing the race is only won by those who go all out to push the boat as hard and as long as necessary. This is how he has prepared ST and this is how he expects us to sail her. This is how he sails her.
One amazing upgrade John made to his boat is he re-built the rudder to a special “racing” spec designed by Farr designers. In what can now only be described as fortunate circumstances, John was able to re-build the rudder of String Theory because of damage incurred when we (the team) put her on some rocks during a training race (Patos Island) earlier this year. A good 10 to 12 inches of the rudder was damaged in the incident causing an insurance claim and the subsequent re-build. John, negotiating with his insurance company, was able to have the new, high performance rudder made from carbon fibre. This performance design was lighter and stronger and designed to enhance the characteristics of the boat under the loads experienced like those we were racing in. And boy, what a difference! This new rudder translates the feel of the boat, through the helm, unlike the old one, in that it literally “stuck” to the water. When the old rudder would cavitate and lose contact and performance, this new one would grab the water, hold it and not let go. It was only when the boat was healing over significantly (30+ degrees) and the performance of the rudder was compromised by the angle of attack into the water, did the rudder feel like it was under-performing. A big reason for our ability to sail the boat fast and hard was the confidence we had in the new rudder and it’s ability to keep good contact with the water.
Tropical heat intensifies, reliable trade-winds enhance exciting nights
No new speed records to report.