What a day it has been for the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team. I'll be the first to admit I'm having a really hard time working down below on the "Vanquish." The dark, wet, violent, and loud conditions are making it tough to think and even tougher to type. Editing photos and video is even worse, triggering more than a few nauseous symptoms. We're currently nearing the Pantaenius Buoy having just rounded Fastnet Rock and it, fortunately, means we are now on our way home.
This day started in extremely light winds, 5-7 knots, and demanded some difficult tactical decisions as we navigated the final coastal obligations, decision that we unfortunately fell on the wrong side of. At one point we were as low as 240th on the overall standings. Through hard work, determination, and perhaps most of all-responsibility-we are now sitting 3rd in class and 8th overall.
This race has not been without its drama. Two early retirees from racing in our class were the 80' Beau Geste and the 68' Alegre, both citing non-specific structural damage from the rough weather. At the time we were seeing 22-30 knots of wind in a building 5-10 foot sea. Then came the 100' Rambler. At first we heard it was MOB (man overboard), then it was confirmed she had capsized. The Rambler guys are good friends to all of us here at the Oakcliff AAOT and there was a somber hour or so on deck while we waited for more information. All 21 crew were rescued, some by boat, others by helicopter, and everyone is safe. It's a sobering reminder that no matter how well prepared the boat and the crew might be, an angry ocean is a powerful force.
We've now got the bow pointed south, back to Land's End, and we should be at Lizard Point where we turn towards Plymouth in about 12 hours time. The forecast is for both sea and wind to diminish in that time as the front that brought this weather pushes on to the east.
Here's to an easier night!