De Oryx Quest Race ging bijna een week geleden van start vanuit Qatar. De vier deelnemende mega multihulls bevinden zich momenteel op de Indische Oceaan ter hoogte van de Malediven. Doha 2006 en Geronimo gaan aan de leiding en varen tussen de Malediven en de kust van Sri Lanka, waar ze profiteren van de stabiele passaatwind. De snelheidsmeter noteert tussen de 21 en 23 knopen op de teller en daarmee zit de vaart er goed in. Dat geldt niet voor de achterblijvers: Cheyenne en Deadalus. Cheyenne bevindt zich met een snelheid van 14 knopen zo’n 300 zeemijlen achter de kopgroep en ziet de achterstand dus oplopen. Toch blijft de sfeer aan boord van de recordjager goed. De Nederlandse navigator Wouter Verbraak doet verslag van de laatste dagen:
The big plunge South
After spending the last days chewing our hands and pulling our hair, there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. It has been hard to everybody on board (especially the navigator), to see the easterly option that we choose evaporate in front of our eyes. Although earlier in the week there were strong NE winds along the Indian coast, seas now are flat and there is no wind at all. Good for beach volleyball, but not so good for us sailors!
We have had to abandon the easterly route and are now heading back to the center of the playing field. Our lady might be beautiful, but she requires some decent winds to keep her happy. Above 10 knots, she starts singing and gets into the mood, below that she gets grumpy, and is hard to get her onto the stage. So luckely we have found some good winds this morning, and have finally been enjoying some faster sailing again.
Looking ahead, the main decision for the next days will be where to cross the doldrums. At the moment the Doldrums look huge with a large north-south extend. Not good for a fast crossing.....On the upside though, it will create options for us and a change to get back into the game. Pre-race studies favour a crossing between 70 and 75 E, which will bring us close to either the west or east side of the Maldives. Not bad! On board hopes are up for spotting these beautiful islands; a welcome change of scenery after a week of sea, some flying fish and an occasional ship.
Talks today have surrounded around washing and 'radio cheynne'. Due to lack of a stereo and weight restrictions to keep the boat as light as possible, our music equipment is limited to the on board computers. Jim however was not at all put back by this and came up with a brilliant idea. On the boat we use short range VHF radios to communicate between the navigator and the drivers. By holding the microphone close to the computer spreakers, 'radio cheyenne' was called to life, and soon 'It's a wonderful world' and 'It's a beautiful day' brought big smiles to everybody on board. The broadcasting didn't last long, as the program leader got cramp in his lefthand from pressing the speaking button on the microphone. Several options are now being discussed to improve the system over the next weeks!
So the bottom line is, despite the loss of miles in the last days, spirits are high!