Sun 26 Nov 2006 21:43
It is 2130 on 26th November and we have been underway for 8 1/2 hours. As the boats left the marina many of the crews made a real effort to dress up and put on a show. One boat left with Jerusalem blaring from the stereo. Another had all crew members dressed in bowler hats and carrying umbrellas. We left with the National Anthem and Sweden Yacht T-shirts as the skipper had failed to buy matching crew kit. We made a good start (if I may be so immodest), crossing within a few seconds of the gun and definitely in the first 10. We had clear wind and put much of the fleet behind us for the first few hours - now, some of the larger yachts flying spinnikers have passed us and we have separated from the majority anyway as we follow a southerly route to pick up the trade winds earlier when they pick up to the south of the Canaries. Time will tell if this is a good strategy but we are making great progress with about 20 knots of wind on the port quarter under genoa and full main. We have rarely been under 8 knots for the last 6 hours and have touched 9.5 in the gusts. These are the best sailing conditions we have experienced since I bought the boat.
All in all, it would have been difficult to write a better script for the start and it is a superb culmination to the weeks and months of effort to prepare. Wattie produced a fabulous dinner at 1930, we have settled down for the night and Free Spirit is simply lapping up the miles.