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You are in: Jersey » Clipper
Monday, 30 December 2002
So what exactly is a Chinese Gybe?
Clipper at sea
Clipper at sea

It sounds quite an experience, as Howard Russell explains in the latest diary sent from aboard the Jersey Clipper.


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Well, strange but true, Jersey is yet again the furthest boat south. Again we are being sold the more miles for your money argument (with it coincidentally tying in with a plan around the weather forecast).

Since leaving Panama City we have been heading more or less due south. We were pleasantly surprised by the strength of the wind, which was nicely on our port beam at the start. However, about an hour from the start, the fleet sailed into a sizeable wind hole, and fears of a very long and painful trip down to Galapagos began to kick in. However, an hour or so later and we had 30 knots on our stern.

The helming has been interesting with a strong breeze, but confused swell. In the groove everything goes well but, every now again, a large set of waves can knock the stern around too much for comfort. Given the wind strength, the possibility of broaching (bow points too close to wind and boat heels over severely) or doing a chinese gybe (stern goes involuntary through the wind) are quite real.

Flinging the wheel
During the midnight to 4am watch, I was helming when we started to get far to close to a chinese gybe. Throwing the wheel all the way over the boat finally reacted and begin to take us into a possible broach. Flinging the wheel, and myself, to the other side of the cockpit, I found myself just behind the person grinding the spinnaker sheet. One of the best ways to reduce power in a broach situation is to ease the spinnaker

Now Marcus claims you could hear my shouts of "Ease" from miles away. I, however, maintain that I almost whispered, in a very controlled and calm manner, into his ear. That being as loud as I could manage through gritted teeth.

Tiredness already
Conditions like this have made sleeping difficult, with the boat being thrown about quite a lot. And while we are only just over 24 hours into the start of this race, the high work rate has left people tired already. However, with tiredness comes the ability to sleep during any off watch period, and soon enough the rhythm will kick in. And on the upside, we are sailing fast. Last night Marcus hit, what must be a fleet record so far, of 18.3 knots. Good surfing.

First at the last radio schedule, our southerly course will ensure we do not keep this position, and those boats favouring the direct rhumb line course will begin to take miles out of us on a DTG (Distance To Go) basis. For those of us that crossed the Atlantic that will be nothing new, and as before we are relishing the more individual approach.

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