The Start and days 1 and 2
28 November 2009 | Gran Canaria
After 2 weeks of fervent and desperate activity to prepare NIKA for the crossing, we awoke to a beautiful, sunny day last Sunday 22 November. Easing out from our berth, we filed past the marina entrance with 225 other ARC yachts to the start line which was located about 1nm off the breakwater - good viewing for the many spectators. The colourful atmosphere with the Gran Canarian marching band punching out many a good tune was really quite something - a similar dockside feeling of chaos to the CYC on Sydney-Hobart race day. The many goodbyes to all our new sailing ARC friends were quite emotional as we could all relate to the feeling of "jumping off into the great unknown".
We started at 1300 at the windward end which was marked by a Spanish warship and were able to quickly set the gennaker and glide through into the top 12 boats within the hour in a gentle 5-10 knot NE breeze. We were very pleased with our speed as we hadn't believed our handicap rating of 1.113 which puts Nika at 25th fastest monohull in our cruising fleet of 156 yachts. It seems unbelievable that we are supposed to beat the Oyster 56's, Discovery 55's, Swan 51's, Jeanneau 49's, Beneteau 50's. In fact, we're supposed to be as fast as the Beneteau 57's.
Nevertheless we seemed to have been holding our own in the fleet under full mainsail and poled-out No. 3 Jib as the wind built to 25 knots during the first night. We've been averaging 175nm per day for the first 2 days and we're holding a course just west of the classical Christopher Colombus 'Southerly Route".
The crew have been in good shape and excited about the start but the nerves or the café English breakie pre start or the combination meant that Jesse and Hels had quite a bad gastric/chucking episode for the first 2 days.
Tyler and Zoe to a much lesser extent felt the need for a sympathy chuck as well. Luckily all in much better form now. Zoe has been very happy reading lots of books.