Dienstag, 25. Januar 2011

Heineken Cape to Rio 2011 - PRODIGYs erster Rückblick

Mehr als die Hälfte des Weges nach Rio ist geschafft. Chris Frost, Skipper von PRODIGY, berichtet ausführlich über den Rennverlauf bis heute. Hier der unbearbeitete Originaltext von inmitten des Südatlantik:

"Why we are not doing as well as expected

Firstly, Naas Botha is quoted as saying "the Currie Cup isn’t' won in May" ... I believe the sentiment is as relevant to the Cape to Rio race, .... it isn't won after 8 days. The final 1000 miles will be crucial, and I am of the opinion that positions will change yet.

Now regarding us specifically. The first 1000 miles of the race are about strategy ex Cape Town. History now shows that the northern route paid. We had intended going this route, but for reasons that will remain on the boat, ended up hedging our bets and took a route between the southern and northern boats. Now, as a canter, this meant we beam reached for three days staright...our best angle of sail...and it showed in the results. (Remember this for the closing 1000 miles into Rio).

However, on day 4, because we were leading...and the only boat to reach the Atlantic high .... we parked up for 8 hours ...doing no more then 3 knots. Being the scratch boat is a two edged sword. If you beat a changing weather system it becomes a case of the rich getting richer...if you don’t (as in our case)...it becomes a case of the "rich must pay more tax"!

After our park up, the race moved into the second phase ...that is 1000 miles of dead downwind sailing. Now we are a bow sprit configured boat (no spinnaker pole). This means we cannot sail direct downwind and need to sail higher angles and gybe back continually, watching for every wind shift. So this explains for our "erratic behavior". (Zigg zagging across the Atlantic).

This section of the course was always going to be difficult. The daily run figures are misleading. For the spinnaker pole boats, their daily run is an accurate reflection of their distance travelled. In our case we are consistently logging 280 miles days .... yet this is not shown, as the daily positions are taken from a point to point basis. (don’t count the zig zags).

The point is ...that so long as we remain strategically positioned, and have the correct approach into Rio relevant to our boats characteristics, we can make the significant gains again that we saw in the early stages of the race. We have no lack of boat speed ... often averaging 17 knots plus for significant periods of time. We just need a long stretch of run way at a beam reach and we will surge right back.

We have had minor setbacks ... all of which are part and parcel of ocean racing, and none of which are raised as excuses: We blew up our largest asymmetrical spinnaker on day 6. (This is now back in action again after 26 hours of repair work by Alex Schon) (Editors note: Oops, blown again a day later.). During the night of day 7, our steering cables came loose. We had to drop all sails and park for about an hour and a half to make repairs. A fatigued crew could only drive the boat at half speed for the next 6 hours. Otherwise, that’s about it in terms of drama. Again, all boats experience these types of challenges in a race like this. Prodigy’s crew were handpicked for their individual skills and have quietly got about the business of finding solutions where necessary. Team morale is excellent and the crew are in good shape and committed.

Prodigy also carries a significant rating hit for having a canting keel. When we sail direct downwind, as we have for 1000 miles .... we get no benefit from the keel as it is centered in the middle like everyone else ... yet we have to carry the rating penalty. Therefore, at this angle of sail we will always struggle on corrected time against the conventional keeled boats. However ... again, if the last 1000 miles are a beam reach...we will get full benefit from this feature...and you will see the corrected time results change significantly. (as was achieved in the first three days of the race). It all depends on the angles and wind strength that we will experience in the final third of the race course.

I also don't want to stress the difficulties ... there are many opportunities still to come ...the challenges were always expected in a race like this. This is a fascinating race that is playing out. A real chess game ... a classic. But the fat lady hasn't sung yet!

One final comment on why we are not doing as well as expected. Our original goal was to do the race in 14 days ..we can still do this...so we feel we are on track. One must also acknowledge the exceptional performance put in so far by the likes of COCT and Ciao Bella, which perhaps makes it look like we are not doing as well as we should."

Thanks a lot, Chris.

Mehr über den Verlauf der Regatta auf dem Tracker.