Following the troubles at the start yesterday the team was determined to work hard to get us back up the race. Despite the 720 penalty for hitting a can and having our Yankee sheets crossed at the start we managed to get across the start line with only a stay sail third from last - not bad considering
We really focused on trim from the start and found ourselves in a pack of five boats with two behind us. Our focus was to take them one at a time step by step. We hoisted the Spinnaker with early dropping of the Yankee 1.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire and one other boat took a completely different route inland so it was really hard to see who was leading so we focused on those near us.
The highlight was when we had picked off four boats as dusk we came on what we learned was Henri Lloyd, our final near term target - we powered past them by three knots and there was suddenly a huge activity of lights of their foredeck. Eric called Simon on the radio for a quick banter and we marched onwards satisfied to have taken them by surprise.
As always setting off on a new sail means you have to settle in. One of the things that really bugged us was bunk allocation and space as some lockers are tiny and some are huge. Owen Jones walked the boat in Brest to device a fair space system and then we drew lots for bunks with 'trades' being allowed for 24 hours. On the delivery I was in the bunk between the galley and sail locker and was fighting with engineering for floor space, which was a real pain especially as I am in this team! Now I am down the back on the starboard side with a lower bunk with a single locker and found all my gear fitted into it - brilliant apart from the locker having a broken zip which I have mended with "HEATH ROBINSON" work around.
We have now moved in Ocean watches doing 4 4 4 at night and 6 6 hours in the day. When we came on watch at 3AM we found we thought we were in the top 2-3 boats but were not sure as we still were uncertain about our friends on Derry~Londonderry~Doire. Having an Irish wife and having trained with Sean I have a soft for the Irish team!
We have our first 'happy hour' 12.30 - 1330 lunchtime today with all watches on deck and had a briefing from Simon who gave us the race order in reverse order.....GREAT Britain in the lead but all boats are within 60 miles and we have 22 plus days to go. We are two thirds of the way down the Bay of Biscay (now called the bay of biscuits after our watch tuck box went missing). The bay has an infamous reputation for bad weather so we seem to have had a relatively good run with our next bad weather we be near Spain - and we found the tuck box in the wet locker!
The lead over Derry~Londonderry~Doire was three miles at lunchtime and this afternoon we have increased it to six mikes - the team is very focused and beginning to settle.
The weather last night was pretty hairy so we had our most experienced folk on the helm. Today we have gybed and so with it being daylight I was able to get me first experience of helming in a big swell in an ocean - absolutely FANTASTIC!! Lovely sunshine, big rolling waves coming from behind, boat moving Port to Starboard as we sail as fast as we can. We managed to hit 15 knots today, our own record.
One hour to watch change at 7PM with dinner and a four hour sleep , lets hope the weather does not worsen before I get to my bunk.