The crews have continues their excellent pace over the last few days it’s clear that they’re also starting to uncover the struggle. Thus far the weather has been relatively benign with the strongest winds seen so far no more than about 12kts. That is about to change as this week the crews will start to receive sustained winds of around 20kts. On top of the sustained wind speeds there will of course be wind gusts, where the wind speed jumps up even more. This is entirely expected but for the crews. Thus far their experience of these sorts of wind speeds when ocean rowing has been when stood on shore. Looking out to see and deciding that it’s too strong to go out in. Although they and the boat would be fine, being able to hold a course unless it’s a tailwind gets really tough in winds stronger than 15kt. Safe arrival back into port gets a bit ‘interesting’ at these sorts of speeds too. Maybe we’re amping it up a bit for dramatic effect, it’s not a significant order of magnitude more, but it will no doubt certainly give them a moment of concern.
The one thing we are sure of is that the boats and equipment and the crews are all very capable of withstanding far, far stronger winds and much larger sea states. It’s just that they will have become used to the more benign conditions and then when it picks up a bit, it feels so much stronger than if you had been experiencing it since day one. No doubt as soon as they’ve enjoyed the extra speed which should come with the stronger winds we can expect to see them puff their chests out a bit and embrace the winds.
Stronger winds can push around the stern of the boat a bit and make holding a course a bit of a challenge. By moving weight towards the back of the boat they should be able to wind-vane better. Pointing downwind and down-wave as the lighter bow is more easily pushed around by the conditions. The crews have probably grabbed food from wherever they could find it for the first 10 days and now is a perfect time to take stock and assess these sorts of things before the 2nd quarter.