Day 3 started off with the the 2nd of two fleet races. The race was even more exciting than the first with higher winds and a shorter course. UBC pulled of another great 1st place finish for a combined score of 10/10 points.
Next we got ourselves setup for the Long Distance Race. This challenge is over 8km long and is done completely autonomously. As we left the docks the wind began to pick up.
With none of the other boats in sight, we sailed Thunderbird 2013 across the start and into auto mode to start this gruelling challenge.
The boat was sailing in winds that we rarely get to test in, and she performed beautifully. Our first lap was completed in only 30 minutes – on track to smash our previous record of 2 hours.
Then the wind began gusting to 25 knots and a full downpour ensued. Right as we neared the 5th mark, a lobster boat parked itself on top of the buoy. We were forced into a dangerous gybe to avoid a collision causing the sails to shear the backstay hook right off. With no backstay we made an emergency run back to repair the boat, and following some heroic repairs we got back on course to finish off all 8 legs of the race.
We finished 2 hours and 15 minutes after our start – with at least an hour spent going in for repairs. The performance of this team was incredible under the stressful conditions, and it paid off – with Thunderbird 2013 winning the Long Distance Challenge as first boat to finish. The only other boat to finish the challenge was Aber SailBot, completing the course in 4 hours…