Chasing the Albatross

My adventure in search of a bird by David Lawson



0 Update Sunday 11th February

  • by David Lawson
  • 11-02-2018


Matt sharing tactics on the boat. Note how the hull has become a white board

Today dawned bright and sunny here in Ross on Wye although the Brecon Beacons were hidden by cloud and from what I could see here it looked very wet over the Welsh Mountains. Andie and I decided that it would be great for me to revisit the water and so a 6 mile walk along the banks of the Wye was the order of the day. Not quite the Southern Ocean but it felt Southern Ocean cold today. Thank goodness for 5 layers!

Well PSP have been in ‘stealth mode’ for 24 hours and it was great to see them come out in 1st place. Skipper Matt and the team had obviously made a decision to make a tactical direction call and to keep this secret from the rest of the fleet.


PSP, the red tadpole just below Guam, after time in stealth mode

Looking at the race viewer all the yachts look very close together and one of the key decisions when going into stealth mode is to ensure the opposition can’t see you, either visually or on the onboard AIS identification system. If you’re not hidden then the other skippers will make the obvious declaration “but we can see you” and there is no hiding and stealth mode becomes immaterial.

The fleet does appear to have split into two now groups and the more northerly boats have benefitted from a ‘wind push’ to open up a gap on the 2nd half of the fleet. It’s amazing how quickly you can open up a 200 mile gap on other boats. If you can average 10 knots of boat speed when others are only managing 5 knots then within one day you can put quite a bit of distance between yourself and the rest of the fleet.

PSP are past masters at this and when we hit the wind holes on the 3rd Leg a few days out of Fremantle and on the 4th Leg outside of Hobart we just sat and watched the miles we had worked so hard to put between us and the rest of the fleet evaporate. So as quickly as you can gain it, distance can also slip away but perhaps PSP have enough experience of this now to make a difference. We’ll see.

It’s interesting to see that this time Visit Seattle have taken a closer line to the rhumb line. Will this be a costly navigational error. Only time will tell. It’s all starting to get interesting now.

With the boats having crossed the equator the teams will be heading back towards winter in the northern hemisphere. Whilst they’ll still be enjoying some warmer weather those layers will be increasing as they head north, but it’ll be some time before they are back to my 5 layers today. But the one big advantage I have here is the ability to drop into a pub after our walk for a well earned pint…….cheers!

Don’t forget, I’m using my story to raise some money for my chosen charity. To all those who have donated, my sincere thanks. Your donation will help to make a real difference in the fight against kidney disease:

Check out the Winter and Spring editions of the Kidney Life magazine where the story of my adventure has been published: