Leg 4, Stage 1: “Buddha course” – an approximate 40 nautical mile round trip to the Buddha statue at the Sanya Nanshan Temple and back to the Sanya start line, including the scheduled in-port triangle off the start.
No way to sugercoat it, this is a weird report to be writing. I could wait to send it from the hotel in a few hours! But that would defeat the purpose of an onboard report…
We technically left Sanya with the start of Leg 4 at 2 pm local time, but we’re now racing (or drifting) back to the very same stretch of water for a temporary finish, a final Chinese feast, and one good night’s sleep before leaving in the morning to face the remnants of a particularly malevolent monsoon.
Obviously there are some mixed feelings about the decision to hold the fleet ashore for the night, but regardless of those opinions, our safety is of value and however the decision was made it was done so with that at the forefront. That has to be appreciated.
As for the racing, we had a great start near the pin and were very nearly over, but lady luck finally graced us with her presence and off we went, to leeward and ahead of the fleet. Solid sailing and smart decisions saw us keep the lead around the triangle course and we extended on the long run to the “Big Buddha.”
That’s where things have gone wrong. As the leaders, we were the first to sail into the lighter winds on the return leg, and we’ve been struggling to get out of our offshore position. The boats behind had the advantage of seeing our problems and opted for the inshore option. We can’t get to them, they’re all powered up in completely different conditions, and we’re watching them sail right by. We’ve completed maybe 30 tacks in the last 30 minutes, could be more, and it doesn’t look like it will change soon.
I was planning on tonight being a “dry” one, but maybe a few beers are in order for the guys…
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