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J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 LEADERBOARD

BLUR Leg 2 Blog - Bermuda to Newport Doublehanded

by J/Boats 2 Jul 12:03 PDT
Bermuda 1-2 Yacht Race © Peter Gustafsson

Time to race back to Newport. This time with Mattias Bodlund as co-skipper.

Bermuda is a fantastic place. But after recovering from leg one and getting boats and (most) skippers back in race condition, everyone was ready to go again. And as co-skippers, or "number two" started to arrive, everyone became increasingly restless.

The weather forecast promised a fast start; "Wind SSW at the start at or above 20 knots, likely backing to SW through the afternoon. Seas 5-7 feet. Showers and squalls becoming possible farther north." then more wind and several fronts driven by a low over New England. The last third was a bit uncertain, and speculations ranged from no wind to 20+ knots NE.

As before leg one, the big talking point was naturally the Gulf Stream, and how to avoid the meander. The consensus was to go west. But the big question was how far?

J/105 Young American showing off before the start. Peter Becker and Adrien Blanc did an outstanding race by just pushing harder than everyone else. The 105 is a great shorthanded boat with stability enough to excel in the conditions we had, but this was next level.

We managed to be first over the line but were soon passed by Cole Brauer and Catherine Chimney in Class 40 First Light.

Logbook Thursday, June 15 20:00 EDT

Thank you, Bermuda!!!

Beautiful location, great weather, and wonderful people, But it was time to leave. No matter how fantastic a place is, at some point, you need to set sail.

The start was right inside St George Harbor, in SSW 12-18 knots. Downwind start so a quick getaway through the narrow "cut" that separates the harbor from the Atlantic Ocean.

As in Newport, we were the first boat over the line. We opted for full main and jib but were ready to put the A5 up as soon as we got out to sea.

The Class 40 went with a flat gennaker and passed us after 500 meters. We managed to keep all the other boats behind, and when we left the island and popped the chute we quickly extended on all the other boats.

We gybed around the first mark and had a short run with the gennaker before we needed to take it down to go NW.

The Class 40 quickly vanished, and we lead a pack of boats aiming for a westerly route. We managed to keep them behind. but just now being passed by J/121 Alchemy.

J/120 Abilyn is just behind and J/105 Young American aft to leeward. It looks like everyone has the same strategy as us. Feels better than being alone:-)

The wind is 18-24 knots from 200-230. So a bumpy reach with main and jib. The average speed is 9.2-9.5 knots, and we keep pushing.

We had a couple of squalls. One with 35 knots and massive rain showers. Had to take a reef to ride it out.

The forecast is for more of the same. So we need to be careful tonight if we get more squalls.

It's great to be at sea and to have someone to share the workload with. And the experience.

See you all tomorrow.

After taking down the A5 we settled in for a port tack speed race.

Logbook Friday, June 16 07:00 EDT

One. Of. Those. Nights.

Pitch black. 20-22 knots of wind on the beam. Waves wash over the boat. Everything is wet. Very bumpy, and hard to do anything. Messing about with a reef. It makes it a bit more comfortable but seems to be a tad slower.

You get the picture. Just miserable.

The good thing is that our westerly pack of boats is staying together. J/121 Alchmy is hard to stop in those conditions and is occasionally a knot faster. J/105 Young American and J/120 Abilyn are very similar to us.

We still have 129 nm to go to where we think we'll cross the Gulf Stream. But who knows? Sometimes after midnight

But before that, there could be a front with 30+ knots. Just to keep us busy. Weather models are uncertain.

Back to the mine.

BLUR Friday, June 16 17:00 EDT

Friday is Squall-day (see above squall line).

Wasn't this supposed to be a rather boring grey day with 20 knots of wind and a tight reach going NNW? Apparently not. Got us a few massive squalls. More rain than I've ever seen, thunder, lightning, and enough wind to take the main down and survive with jib only.

Oh, we had a front passage as well. And a few throughs with lots of wind. So we've been going back and forth between full main and 1 or 2 reefs.

Life onboard sucks a little bit less than yesterday. It's still wet, bumpy, and hard to do anything. It's hard to make coffee or food, it's hard to go on the toilet, it's hard to get dressed- ie. getting into soaking wet foul weather gear,

The only easy thing is falling asleep and going off-watch.

But we're getting used to it. Getting into our routines. Appreciating small things. And just keep hammering.

The jury is still out when it comes to the Gulf Stream strategy. Our little J/boats group (J/121 Alchemy, J/105 Young American, J/120 Abilyn, and J/111 Blur) is staying together. We're 50 nm west of rhumbline which should be enough to avoid the main stream. We have 1.5 knots adverse current but are not sure what it is.

Anyway, we're committed to this and we'll see how it plays out.

Good night everyone. Really appreciate all the followers out there, and I can't tell you how much your comment means to us.

Logbook Saturday, June 17 07:00 EDT

Fast and furious.

Since 01:40 we've had 20-30 knots from SW and building seas. So we're pushing hard towards (what we think) is the best place to cross the Gulf Stream. Still, 70 nm to go. And 315 nm to Newport. So halfway celebration today.

It's full-time hand steering to not broach or bury the bow in a wave. Quite hairy in the pitch black night with thunderstorms and lightning on the horizon. So much easier after sunrise (I got a tiny glimpse of the sun before the sky went grey again.

Otherwise, life on board is good. We have 3-hour watches and two common ones for breakfast & dinner. That means 3*3=9 hours of possible sleep + some shorter naps during the day. Sleep-deprived, but not too bad. We also eat well (last night was Creamy Tuscan Chicken with pasta). Delicious.

My ribs (that I hurt on leg one) are better, but I'm still on painkillers. It's amazing how many movements on a boat affect the ribs. The common "I'll just reach a little further and grab this" for example. Or steering. Or sleeping.

Time for breakfast. Then back to work.

Logbook Saturday, June 17 20:00 EDT

Hello, my dear friend the Gulf Stream.

This time we found the stream right where we thought it was. There is hope for me as a navigator after all.

After a day with a mix of glorious and fast running down waves, and double reefing in squalls, we were greeted by massive clouds rain, and finally no wind at all.

When the new wind filled - we were upwind, closed hauled on port tack. Now we're under jib and two reefs doing +8 knots towards Newport. Less than 200 nm to go.

The Gulf Stream measured 50 nm south to north, and we had max 3.4 knots of easterly currents.

Besides fighting with J/120 Abylin, J/46 Resolute has joined us on AIS. They're 10 nm to leeward. So I guess our westerly route beat their rhumbline variant.

It's hard to match the bigger boats in these conditions (TWA 80 in 20-22 knots). But we'll do what we can.

Over and out from the uncomfortable ship Blur and two very salty sailors.

Logbook BLUR Sunday, June 18 07:00 EDT

Sunday, bloody Sunday.

What a night!

I can remember many miserable nights on race boats. And on a J/111 they're very often at TWA 60 in +24 knots of breeze. It's just an inferno. The boat is flying over waves slamming into the next. At least a couple of times I've looked into the forepeak expecting a hole. Water over the deck hosing down anyone that sticks their head out. Nearly impossible to live in a washing machine set to "crew breaking".

A few times, we've had a crew who had never been seasick and were bragging about fishing boats on the North Sea. 30 minutes of this cracked them.

Oh, and our third crew member, the autopilot, has decided to protest our choice of settings and put in 3-4 spontaneous tacks. Very irritating!! But, we figured out a way to gybe back on course.

The positives? We're fast. We've been matching J/120 Abilyn all night.

The forecast indicates that the conditions should improve in a few hours. We'll see. 122 nm to go, so early Monday morning ETA.

Why do we do it?

Apparently, to appreciate normal life!

Read the rest of Peter's Leg 2 blog on BLUR.SE here.

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