After good start, crew settling in Chessie update

May 06, 1998|By PETER BAKER

Chessie Racing, the Maryland entry in the Whitbread Round the World Race, was making good time in the rough-and-tumble Gulf Stream yesterday afternoon and settling in for the long haul across the Atlantic Ocean to France.

"Today is Day 3, and we are jib-top reaching in the Gulf Stream," Chessie bowman Jerry Kirby wrote in an e-mail. "We have Toshiba, Silk Cut, Brunel[Sunergy], EF Language and EF Education all close by."

Kirby reported east-southeast winds of 18 knots and boat speed of 12 knots.

"After an epic stopover in Baltimore and Annapolis, it is taking a few days to settle in," Kirby said. "The first signs that the race is beginning to take its toll began to show in Brazil and became more apparent in Annapolis.

"Almost all the boats have someone sick with the flu or bronchitis. Right now, we have six crew members with either a cold or the flu."

But, Kirby said, the restart on Sunday and the trip down Chesapeake Bay greatly buoyed the team's spirit.

"The start was fantastic. Gavin Brady and John Kostecki decided to port tack the whole fleet and pulled it off," Kirby said. "After that it was all hands on deck until dawn the next day, when we left the mouth of the Chesapeake in first place."

At today's first position report at midnight (GMT), Chessie was in ninth place, 14.2 miles behind leader Merit Cup of Monaco.

On Monday, Kirby reported, Chessie had problems with its Whomper spinnaker, blowing out a strop that holds it up and later exploding a shackle at the tack as the W60 sped through moderate waves.

"These sails have some incredible loads on them, so when you hit chop, you just hold your breath," he said. "Last night [Monday] was more exciting with our blast reacher on, leaping off waves in the Gulf Stream."

Kirby said Chessie plans to ride the Stream as far east as possible before heading north with the first advantageous weather front.

Kirby and the Chessie crew also had some answers for Baltimore-Annapolis schoolchildren who asked about marine life during the stopover here.

"We saw more sharks last night at dusk than we have seen in the entire race - some were over 20 feet long with huge dorsal fins," Kirby said. "It looked like a scene from "Jaws." They were all feeding on the large schools of fish at the edge of the Gulf Stream."

Pub Date: 5/06/98

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