The colour of the sky is slowly greying as we sail further towards the English coast. We had originally thought that the breeze direction was going to stay consistent enough to do the old ‘one an in’ from Cascais. However, to leave Portugal, go around the Azores and finish our 2,000-mile qualifier in the UK with only one tack is a highly unlikely scenario.
So far the weather has been very cooperative for us though. With very little upwind at all, Azzam has done just over 1,400 miles now with a 15-knot average. With cracked sheets and wind speeds up in the high teens, there is one thing you can guarantee on a Volvo 70 – you’re going to get wet! Especially when boredom is running high on a four-hour watch. The lads love catching a surf any chance they can get, and Open 70s are the perfect vehicle for catching long ocean swells.
Right now we are VMG reaching 300 nautical miles to the North West of Cape Finisterre, France. With a healthy average speed 18.5-knots through the night hours and a little less during daylight hours so far, we are ticking the miles off nicely. Although it was an instrument-heavy, moonless night, Azzam felt like a ‘low riding Cadillac’ (according to myself and Andrew Lewis, the two Americans on board) moving smoothly through the darkness. Her comfortable motions coupled with the underbelly detail lights from a spectacular amount of phosphorescence, gave her that restored classic car feel.
It’s looking like a Friday daytime arrival into the UK right now, which is perfect. The English amongst us are looking forward to getting home to see friends and family and it will be familiar ground to Butti too after his month-long training session in the UK earlier this year. Sailing conditions look excellent for the rest of the qualifier, and the crew continues to run tests throughout each day. The yacht is dry down below, and the mango porridge for breakfast is still warm. All is happy on board Azzam.