A hard week in the office

5 12 2011

We have been pretty quiet on the blog front since the start on Tues last week. We’ve certainly had a bit on!

Incredible to think that the last six days all I can recall is bashing and crashing up wind, blast reaching practically under water, and moderate/heavy running in bleak grey conditions to today’s glorious sunshine and 25 to 30 knots. The 4 weeks since we finished leg 1 – some wonderful hospitality in Cape Town, a visit home to my wife Tracy and son Fraser, and a pretty honest attempt to put back on the weight lost on leg 1 – all seems so long ago and so far away.

But now we’re back to the daily grind and routine. Three hour position reports, sail changes, driving, trimming, eating, a couple of hours of naps every now and then, constant monitoring of our competitors performance and losses and gains, followed by animated discussions with Ross about what they are thinking, what they have up, what conditions they are in.

We had good company with Campagne de France within a mile or so of us for many hours, including some very unpleasant heavy airs reaching under the ocean. We thought they must have missed our company having shared an apartment with us in Cape Town. Then they just disappeared, most unlike them I did see a couple of rather unusual angles and speed they were sailing on the AIS (that we were checking every few minutes to measure our performance against them) – then just gone. Of course this started a whole debate and new speculation on board about what has happened, what they broke, and then we see on the next sched they have gone to hang out with their new friends on Cessna, now we get the picture, not even so much as a good bye, nice to know you, and thanks for the Christmas cake!

We have been pushing as hard as we can over the last few days while making our way down to the 42s limit. On a couple of occasions we have pushed a little too hard, despite lengthy discussions about which spinnaker to put up, debating the merits of pushing hard vs. the conservative approach, the high road vs. the low road. A couple of the less conservative decisions have for want of a better expression – have definitely come back around to bite us! Last night we had a sail half in the water whist charging along in the deep dark night, which cost us a few miles, and today we had a mother of a wipe-out that took over two hours to recover from all the while the two guys in front are charging along oblivious to our scramble to get back up and running. We were charging along in champagne yachting conditions, big gear up again (I lost that argument) with a solid 25 to 30 knots, big ocean swells and brilliant sunshine. I personally took the boat speed record at over 24 knots, cannot recall the exact figure as that was about when I closed my eyes and went ‘brace, brace, brace’. Thankfully we popped up out of that one OK, but a little further down the track it all went pear shaped. We came out unscathed, but in a bit of a mess, at least the mast is still pointing up, and all the appendages are in the right place.

We are relieved to see from the latest sched that this only cost us 8 to 10 miles, but hurts to know we should have gained as much. We are now 30 miles off the lead having been leading the charge 24 hours ago, but there is a lot of ocean to pass under our keel before we hit home shores.