Short video taken 30min after the start
For the second time, Yasasin is joining THE race.
This time, lots of wind is expected.
We are only 7 on board, and there are reasons to worry as the weather is going to be tough and rough.
The start is at 1pm so we board the boat at 7am, 22 miles away and leave the harbor over 1 hour after.
Arriving in the Bosphorus, the sky gets darker and darker, and the rain starts, brought by some heavy windy ugly clouds. We decide to take the second reef, just in case.
Bad luck we rip the sail just above the 2nd reef. We decide to repair despite the rain.
The whole crew is assigned a task, cutting patches, drying the spot, setting up docktape to help holding the patch and so on. A nice and good spirit but unfortunately not helping us much to prepare the start, to place the boat, to signal to the race-comity to avoid a “no-show” resulting to a possible DNS*.
Passing through the Dardanelles
Maxi cenaker check
Heavy Genaker exploded
Finally satisfied with our work but not believing much that it would hold long, we hoist the mainsail with one reef.
Our race can start.
Approaching the starting-line, trying to feel the 4 knots current pushing us to a potential PMS*, missing a tack as we do not yet deploy our headsail, getting closer and closer to the numbers of boats no needing so much space to maneuver .
1pm. At gun, we are a little behind the field but with clear space in front of us allowing to power off, first with J1 (solent) and shortly after with the small genaker, expecting up to 30knots of wind outside the Bosphorus.
A couple of successful jybes at high speed pushing us quickly to second spot, behind this incredibly fast “Orient Express” (55ft monohull).
For a while we are followed by a 40ft black beauty literally flying. Amazing speed and perfect control putting them in 3rd place letting the others way way behind. Too bad they explode their maxy genaker and we will not see them again. The news were that they retired for some reasons.
In no time the fleet disappears at the horizon, the wind is about 15 to 20knots, and we sail at about 140deg true angle at a speed between 15 to 20knots passing Orient Express heading sightly further south than us.
Later during the day, the wind picks up to 30knots ++. The decision is taken, we decide to roll the genaker. The crew is making the move but at the very same time the sail explodes at about 3 to 4 meters from the top. Sad because we really counted on it for some particular spots like the Dardanelles or further south the bay North of Cesme were the wind is normally moderate.
Our speed decreases a lot, forcing us to luff much more to have some apparent wind but our lead melts totally, and at our first jybe late in the afternoon, we can see Orient-Express way ahead of us.
After 8 hours, we enter the real Dardanelles, with gybes at the menu for the whole passage. The SI* are clear about where to navigate compare to the separation-traffic-zone for cargo. And in that area, there are lots of traffic, specially at night. Totally dark night, we speed up at 27knots, gybing between numbers of cargoships all over, rocks, sea-mark and light-houses, shore lights and road traffic. Impressive indeed.
At about 3miles away, we have a check-point to pass by, in front of a little tiny harbor where a little buoy with a flashing light very close to land has to be left on port. Tricky in this dark night.
Later on in the night, we will face heavy Northerly breeze blowing up to ….. (we heard 55knots, but did we get that?).
At 3am the wind picks up quickly and we decide to rollfurl the J2 (staysail) and continue with 1 reef in the main. But the wind is really blowing, the waves getting more and more nasty, and it becomes tricky to steer at very very high speed, hitting the front waves as we sail so much faster than them.
The race course wants us to luff about 40deg to East, but the risk to broach is getting bigger and bigger. The mainsail traveler and sheets are pulled to almost max to minimise the risks (broaching), but luffing in those conditions seems to be mission impossible.
At a certain point, we all are convinced that this time is out time to capsize. We are constantly above 26 to 27knots and hit a wave, lifting the aft up to 2 to 3 meters in the air. Lucky us, the boat falls back in normal position so we can get in control again. The order is given to drop the mainsail. I don’t think we can manage the 3rd reef, so we try to drop it completely.
SUCCESS. We broke 2 battens only, but at least we are safe.
Later on, we will roll out the J2 (staysail) until sunrise and hoist the main to accelerate when the wind drops.
We finish the race with 3 reefs and J2, in a second place after Orient Express
This time, we do not break our speed record of 32knots, set just north of Cesme in 2015
*DNS = Did Not Start
*PMS = Prematured Start
*SI = Sailing Instruction