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93 days 22 hours 52 minutes

Spirit of Hungary – Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman skippers’ log 1st-2nd Apr – over the Doldrums – crossed the EQUATOR and quote from G. Altadill


BWR news: Back in the North

Spirit of Hungary crossed the Equator back into the Northern Hemisphere at 1553hrs UTC this afternoon. Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman have taken 92 days 03 hrs 53 mins since the start on December 31st to return into Spirit of Hungary’s ‘home’ hemisphere. They cross 5 day and 10 hours behind Renault Captur.

Second placed Spanish skipper Guillermo Altadill praised Fa for his strength of character, his energy and his fortitude, paying tribute to his race today.
“He is a remarkable character. I cannot say that I would have his energy and drive to do so much the way he has when I am his age, designing, building and now racing the boat around the world.” said Altadill during today’s live show in Barcelona.

Fa and Colman have emerged from the Doldrums today and are making 9.9kts north this afternoon although their problem in the short to medium term is that the trade winds are quite  N’ly and so they will be unable to make very profitable northing. And, as yet, the winds are still quite light.  Their ETA back in Barcelona is currently something like 21st April. Patience has been their outstanding virtue since the start and it is being tested again!

Nandor Fa  SOH skipper’s Equator-log, 2nd April, 11 40 UT,

“We were stuck. Not just a little bit, but very much! In the night we entered an inevitable rain cloud – it was homogeneous on more tens of metres diagonally. As far as we could see on the radar there was nothing else to see than that, and we stopped like a peg. Silent rain, zero wind, seaweed all around as far as the eye can see. Never seen such a thing.
The perfect trap!

It was all the same throughout this morning. Then, around an hour ago at 8 30 UT, real wind started to blow and increased to 20 knots. Luckily now we were reaching so our speed had picked up. At the beginning we were sailing as a river sloop, fast, the rudder was making a metre-high wake as it was fully covered in seaweed. I didn’t want to stop, we were finally progressing! At last, there was no other choice, it slowed us too much. So I reversed it slightly, then we continued. The stop didn’t take longer than 3 minutes and it was such a different feeling afterwards.

For those who can’t imagine how one can reverse a sailboat:
I simply luff the boat up into the wind where it stops. If I steer the boat correctly, it will slip back in a way that all the sails stay on one side, they take the wind and make the boat go on again.
If I reverse in a way that the boat tacks, it’s like if I came out of my garage tossing the neighbor’s garbage into the flower bed. A little awkward but not a catastrophe.

A little bit later… According to the forecast we should have had upwind, but in reality we didn’t have anything. The routing’s tiny spot was running beautifully on a Z-shaped route with a theoretical wind, off the screen to the North somewhere. It had already done 40 miles, while we were just standing in one place. Then our wind had arrived, and cutting the corner we gained upon our tiny spot. What a satisfaction!

At 15 52 UT we jumped over the iron line, and began the last section of our race.
One more curve on the North-Atlantic and we are at home !

2nd April, 16 30 UT, position: 00° 04,8′ N, 029° 52,5′ W, water temperature: 24,6°C.”

 BWR list – Ranking from Cape Horn to Equator:

1/ Poujoulat    12d 19h57
2/ OPOO         14d 11h19
3/ Neutrogena 14d 20h06
4/ WAW          15d 00h23
5/ GAES          15d 07h26
6/ Spirit           17d 09h40
7/ Renault       17d 18h05

Spirit of Hungary Atlantic Doldrums skipper_onboardphoto©FA_N_Atlantic_1stApr_GOPR1368

Spirit of Hungary Atlantic Doldrums skipper_onboardphoto©FA_N_Atlantic_1stApr_GOPR1368

SOH©EQUATOR_passage_02 04 2015_DSC00413 skipper Nandor Fa (HUN)  and co-skipper Conrad Colman (NZL)

SOH©EQUATOR_passage_02 04 2015_DSC00413 skipper Nandor Fa (HUN) and co-skipper Conrad Colman (NZL)

Nandor Fa SOH skipper’s  log – 1st April, 15 50 UT,

“The way we ran across the doldrums was phenomenal. I’ve already had the fortune here in ’92 on the way down, when I ran across the notorious “Horse latitude” the same way as now. (It was called the Horse latitude in the great clippers’ era, because the ships were stranded there for so long the soldiers’ horses had died.)

In the night cumulonimbus had showed on the sky, as a proof of the rising masses of air. This phenomenon is the collision of the south-easterly and the north-easterly air masses as they are forcing each other to rise, that is supported by a significant thermal lift as a result of the warming temperature. An amoebae-like stripe of changeable width is formed, where the huge air masses of significant humidity falls back in the form of showers. This endless war of wind affaires arises from the Earth’s rotation and the Sun’s heat,  and while enormous powers are moving, showers and the rising air kills the wind.

So, the showers had appeared and we’ve run between them in such a fortunate way, we could sail in the “current” between the two masses, where we could progress with 10-16 knots towards North. I was really enjoying it as the “train” took us. On the radar I saw two enormous-size storms above and below us, between which we were taken by the middle blast. By the dawn, the doldrums was behind us.

A huge amount of seaweed makes our life difficult, which I have never seen here before. I feel like as if I was sailing on the Sargasso sea. They form islands, they are everywhere, and get stuck on the keel, the daggerboard, the rudder, the hydro-generator, everything. In every half an hour we go backwards, because the boat almost stops in the ratatouille of seaweeds. We’d been sailing like this for hours, when the ratatouille seemed to grow thinner.”

1st April, 21 45 UT, position: 01° 35,6′ S, 030° 14,6′ W,
water temperature: 25,4°C,


CONRAD COLMAN Co-skipper’s log April 2nd Position 00 Degrees 53 South 029 Degrees 45 West

Oh so close to the equator!

In my last post I wrote that I was psyched up and ready to take on the worst of the unpredictably fickle winds that the doldrums could throw at us. In my mind’s eye I was Al Pacino in “Any Given Sunday” giving his legendary locker room speech about how we would “climb outta hell… one inch at a time.” However we have had pretty smooth sailing, and I had a great time the night before last slaloming downpours with the big gennaker up while sometimes making 16 knots of boat speed over a piece of sea where 1.3 knots of wind were forecast. By the end of that one run we were a whole day and a half ahead of our routing! So much for fighting inch by inch.

Our surprisingly good progress has been interrupted by large islands of Sargasso seaweed, normally found in the Sargasso Sea (strangely enough) north of Guyana. This weed is made up of small spiky pieces that individually are nothing to worry about but they clump together to form patches, and the patches become islands, and they stick together like motivated velcro. All it takes is for one tendril to innocently wrap itself around the keel, daggerboard or rudder and seconds later it has gathered its mates to make a huge ball whose drag can halve the boat speed in these light airs and create enough turbulence on the rudders that we can barely control the boat. Every time a clump takes up residence on the rudder we have to put the boat into “reverse” to clear it. This means we push the bow of the boat directly up into the wind and hold it while, sails flapping, the speed reduces to zero, then goes negative while the weed floats free. This maneuver often lets the wind on the wrong side of the sails, pushing us into a quick tack and a gybe to recover our good course… our trace on the plotter is covered with random little circles but it’s still faster than continuing with the weed stuck to the boat.

So close to the equator this makes for hot work so I was thrilled when tonight the Spirit of Hungary was enveloped by a massive rain cloud and I got the chance to have a proper shower. Doldrums showers are always a little panicked, as you never want to soap up only to have the cloud move on before you’ve rinsed off! This time I needn’t have worried, as I had to time to leisurely wash myself from head to toe, while still charging through the black of the night. I must have make a comical sight, naked except for my headlight and my shoes, suds flying everywhere as I eased and trimmed the sails to respond to the gusts and lulls. My only hope was that Nandor wouldn’t wake up and think he’d left his boat in the hands of a dancing madman!

While the forecasts have only served for comic relief lately, I’m pretty optimistic that we have escaped the worst of the fluky winds and should now be able to make tracks northwards on one tack until the Canary Islands. Despite still having the equivalent of a transatlantic passage to complete, once across the equator it will feel like we’re almost back. Ah, but the wind just died! Maybe we’re still fighting for inches after all!

 FR:  Carnet de bord du 2 avril Position: 00° 53’ Sud 45° Ouest

Oh tellement proche de l’Equateur!

Dans mon dernier blog je vous expliquais que j’étais prêt à batailler avec les vents instables du pot au noir. Dans ma tête j’étais Al Pacino dans « L’enfer du dimanche » quand il fait son discours mémorable dans les vestiaires « on va se sortir de l’enfer… centimètre par centimètre ». Mais au final on a pour l’instant eu un passage plutôt calme, j’ai passé de bons moments à slalomer entre les nuages orageux à 16 nœuds de vitesse alors que les fichiers nous annonçaient 1,3 nœuds de vent ! Pour une fois, nous étions 1 jour et demi en avance sur notre routage ! Plutôt sympa cette bataille.

Nos progrès ont été ralentis par de larges îles d’algues sargasses, que l’on trouve d’habitude au nord de la Guyane. Ces algues ne posent pas de problèmes normalement sauf qu’elles s’accrochent entre elles comme du velcro et que si on en accroche un tout petit peu par malchance sur la quille, les dérives ou les safrans on se retrouve vite avec un énorme paquet qui peut ralentir énormément le bateau surtout dans des airs légers. A chaque fois que l’on en remarque quelque part on est obligé de faire reculer le bateau pour l’enlever, on se met donc face au vent jusqu’à s’arrêter, puis on recule un peu et souvent on est obligé de revirer ou empanner car le vent pousse les voiles dans le mauvais sens. Notre trace sur la carte est couverte de petits cercles mais ça reste plus rapide que de continuer avec les algues.

Aussi proche de l’Equateur je souffre pas mal de la chaleur donc j’étais ravi que Spirit of Hungary se trouve juste sous un énorme nuage et me donne la chance de prendre une vraie douche ! D’habitude on a toujours un peu peur de se doucher dans le pot au noir car on ne veut pas se retrouver plein de savon et voir le nuage de pluie s’éloigner avant le « rinçage » ! Cette nuit c’était parfait, j’ai pu me laver de la tête aux orteils tout en continuant d’avancer à bonne vitesse sous les étoiles. La scène devait être comique, un marin nu avec une lampe frontale et ses chaussures, de la mousse qui vole dans tous les sens pendant les réglages de voile dans les rafales… j’espérais juste que Nandor n’allait pas se réveiller et penser qu’il avait laissé son bateau dans les mains d’un danseur fou

Même si les prévisions n’ont pas vraiment été d’un grand réconfort dernièrement, je reste optimiste et espère que l’on a passé le plus dur du pot au noir pour pouvoir progresser au nord vers les Canaries. Même s’il nous reste encore l’équivalent d’une traversée de l’Atlantique à parcourir, c’est toujours motivant de passer l’Equateur, ça sent la maison ! Enfin bon, le vent vient de tomber donc peut être que je vais l’avoir ma bataille pour les centimètres vers le Nord… à suivre !