Usually at this time of the year the NE trade winds are well established. This means it can blows strong from that direction. As we have seen from the Talister Challenge and the Vendee Globe this year’s weather is atypical. The doldrums area of no wind by the equator is very big and the normal patterns are not happening.
Gavan is also entering the region that is prone to thunderstorms. The higher temperature cause these sudden localised outbursts to form right in front of you. Most boats can sail or drive around them and can seen them at night on radar. Gavan will see them during the day but will be unable to divert and at night he will suddenly come upon them. The wind strength doubles in these outbursts and there is tremendous rain. Its a great way to clean the boat and crew and to collect water but its quite a lot to handle on your own in a small boat. Perhaps the unusual nature of the present weather will not encourage the formation of thesecloudbursts.
So the weather gods are not favouring Gavan. While he is relying on very little sleep he does need it and tends to need a longer catchup period every four or five days. If he has wind he can keep maintain some progress while asleep but the crewed boats have a huge advantage once the wind dies down.
Sadly the forecast over the past week is consistently showing slack air just ahead of him and extends through this weekend.
This will suit American Oarsmen who had been tipped to win the event. They have found another gear in the second half of the event and are getting much better speed than they had earlier on.
It is very hard for Gavan to ignore they crews directly behind him but the weather and their actions are entirely out of his control. An incredible frustrating situation for him. No matter how hard he works in these conditions the advantage is to the others.
All our encouragement has to be focused on what he can control. Eating well, getting just enough sleep, rigging adjustments, hull cleaning, navigation and good technique.
There have been some technical difficulties out there these past two days but hopefully matters will improve. It's been a very slow past 24hrs and at times Gavan has really struggled. The light winds haven’t helped but one of his oars has not been engaging with the water and was tending to pop out as it was pulled. Its called ‘washing out’ in rowing speak. Flat water sculls have lots of fine tune adjustment to get the angle of entry pull and extraction just right. Doireann is built for robustness over fine adjustment. We considered some hacking options but upon further inspection some wear on the pink sleeve on the oar was detected. Luckily he is carrying a spare set of oars and has swopped both oars and the black swivels that retain the oars and allow their rotation around a stainless steel pin.
He has already replaced the sliding seat due to wear on the bearings and wheels.
In addition Gavan dove under the boat this afternoon and scraped the hull surface clean. The rate of growth on the hull surprised him. Any roughness on the hull induces drag especially in light winds. Hopefully these tweaks will help his performance. Unfortunately the light airs extend for quite a few more days.
To get an idea of use and wear on a boat. Club rowers would generally do 2000 kilometers per year. Elite level would be 4000 and O’Donovan types above that.
Gavan has effectively put his kit through over a years use in a few weeks!
Send out the positive vibes across the Atlantic folks!