Today saw the windy reach transitioning into “crossing the ridge” for the bulk of the fleet – this means winds much further aft, and lightening up as they move out of the wide California Coastal flow, aka Gale Alley, into the edge of the Eastern Pacific High pressure zone and their “slot car” paths.
Our intrepid are reporting relaxing, eating full meals, and likely beginning to enjoy the sailing. That is, as long as they are not fretting too much about what may lie ahead. Remember that heretofore behaving Pacific High? Well, even the good kids act out occasionally and the forecast is showing this High maybe just can’t resist messing with our guys and gal.
The current long, not well formed, High is forecast to tighten up a bit in the next couple of days, and as it does this, it will extend a ridge from north to south down into the path of the fleet. We’ve seen some of the fleet likely reacting to this projection, including Riff Rider who has dipped more south, as well, Double Espresso. Others in the fleet, however, seem to have veered north, or west, Crinan II, JouJou, Passages, Nightmare. Overall, this year’s fleet is tracking a more northerly route than past races, flirting with the edge of that ridge, including the boats in the “clump of comfort”: Fugu, Iris, Jacqueline, Owl, Dolphin, Crazy Rythym, and Dark Horse. Kyntanna has sailed over west to join that party, leaving Morning Star still as the easternmost boat.
We’ll see in about 36-48 hours what effect the lighter winds have. Some may be able to get in front of the ridge, some may end up in it. Distance traveled is always a trade off with the speed traveled over that distance.