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26 November 2003, 11:25 am
First Few Days Produce Some Fast Sailing
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Patrick Roach

ARC 2003
Las Palmas - St. Lucia

After a near perfect start, with pleasant NW winds and warm sunshine, most ARC crews settled down to their first night at sea, trying to establish a routine following the excitement of the start day.
Some of the yachts hit a calm patch off the south of Gran Canaria, whilst others reported a few hours of headwinds. However as darkness enveloped the fleet, the forecast wind appeared, scudding the yachts through the surf at good speeds. Intrepid of Dover reporting "winds over 20 knots and we are doing over 8 knots in lumpy seas. Our two reefs in the mainsail make the going easier though"

The first night at sea and most yachts can still see the red and green navigation lights of other yachts all around them, though by dawn the spread has increased and contact is now via the SSB long range radio, instead of the shorter range VHF.

Excitement, nerves and a lumpy sea bring on their first casualties, with many yachts reporting seasickness, in fact said Brian PALMER on Songster, "even our cats are seasick!"

Day two dawns with some relief as wind and sea state settle a little. However, the sea has taken a toll and several yachts have had to return to Gran Canaria with problems. Sweden 70, Paper Moon, put out a PAN-PAN call, after they discovered leaking keel bolts were flooding their bilge. The pumps are holding and they are making good speed for Gran Canaria expected in tonight or early tomorrow.

The crew of Jeanneau 52.2 Great Escapes, also had an unpleasant surprise, when they discovered that the top rudder bearing was moving. The bearing is not leaking, but as a precaution the yacht is returning to Las Palmas to effect repairs and they hope to restart soon.

Maxi Lodka Sport have also joined those making a pit-stop back in Las Palmas, having returned to drop off an injured crew member who had dislocated his shoulder. The crewman is receiving medical attention and the yacht has now restarted.

Despite these set-backs, the mood of the fleet is cheerful and the excellent sailing in giving some great average speeds. Mike KOOPMAN sailing aboard VOR60 Spirit reports hitting a top speed of 19.8knots, and during a 4 hour period yesterday covering 55 miles! At the front, a pack of large yachts are pushing for the lead, including Venom another VOR60, Liara a Dixon 65 and a veritable pod of Farr 65's; all hoping to take a bite out of the ARC course record of 11days 23hrs, 41 minutes and 43 seconds set by Farr 65 Spirit of Diana in ARC 2001.
World Cruising Club (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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