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11/05 - 09h15

Good Tuesday for Grey Power

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is up to seventh place in the Rhum class and is making good, steady progress approaching the passage of Cape Finisterre. He is on great form, musing on the performance of race leader Loick Peyron. 

Tuesday was a good day for us.  Once I had sorted out the deck at daylight, I set more sail and we got moving at last.  This boat was built by that remarkable Italian sailor Giovanni Soldini as "Fila" and he won the Around Alone race in her the next year.  For this race we had time to prepare her properly, unlike the 2006 Velux5oceans race where we were rushed.
So on Tuesday I put her under some pressure to get across the Bay of Biscay fast and make up some of the time we lost in the Channel, and it was good to look astern at a long straight wake stretching away into the distance.

I think I lost some time at the beginning because the tacking angle is too wide and we need deeper dagger boards to grip the water when beating.
Boats like the water to go along the hull not across it. Also, I did try to stop the boat being slammed too much in the waves as breakages at the beginning demand a price down the line.   To win, first
you have to finish.

 My only "damage" so far is that the wind instruments have failed, but that is where I have an advantage over the younger skippers in that I grew up when we did not have such luxuries.

So, as I look at the latest position reports, it is good to see we are slowly reeling in the boats that got ahead of us earlier.   We have the speed on a reach,so it will now come down to tactical decisions as to where to choose to make the crossing of the Atlantic, and every competitor is thinking about that right now.  At the end of the day, we all race within our classes, but I think we must all be watching with admiration the progress of the Ultimes.

20 years ago Peter Blake and I thought a 92 foot catamaran was big and fast, and it was at the time.  We averaged 15 knots around the world with a crew of 8.  Loick Peyron is now averaging close to 30 knots single handed!
That is progress. One wonders at what the watchkeepers on the Merchant ships make of it, as they see AIS targets coming towards them, or overtaking them at the speeds we now make in yachts.  Banque Popular must appear like a new secret navy weapon.

And sitting here watching all the action in the navigation area is a Royal National Lifeboat Institution "Teddy" Bear, chosen from amongst thousands to accompany e in this race.   His reward will be to be sold off to raise money for the RNLI.

Robin Knox-Johnston
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