The waves never seem to catch us. Sitting on the back GREAT Britain watching the swell coming towards us then falling away as we catch the surf is one of my daily rituals. After six hours on watch this morning, the break and a piece of time alone is well needed.
We are into day eight on the boat and we all seem to be well settled into our routines. The mood is a bit strange though as we are currently lying in sixth position and we don't really like it. The numerous failures on board, the latest being an 8.5m rip in our medium weight spinnaker has left us not being able to fully race the 70-foot yacht to it's full potential. There is still 3000 plus miles left to go; ensuring we minimise the failures is the top priority.
As I watch the waves, the skipper is on the helm showing us that we really are amateurs at this sport. The effortless guiding of the bow on the surf and keeping a constant compass course is one to be admired and one to really learn from. He has commented we are all progressing well, however you can't help notice the gap in performance from the crew to the skipper's talents.
The sky is a rich light blue with a dashing of fluffy white clouds. On the horizon is the blackness of one of the squalls that we have just guided ourselves around. Hitting one of them with our last remaining working spinnaker would certainly be race over in terms of placing up the table.
To ensure we don't fall back down the rankings any more, the requirement to ease every last ounce of speed out of the craft whilst not breaking anything is ever more apparent. We had a trimming master class from Skipper Simon Talbot last night, and now as I head to wards my bunk, the noise of the grinders and winches working echo through the hull and makes the sweltering heat the second annoyance on the list.
With the clear skies and our latitude now at 28 degrees North, just by the Canary Islands, the temperature is rising at around 2 degrees per day. On deck, floppy hats are all the trend and sun cream is essential. Down below the humidity makes you perspire as soon as you set foot in the galley. Sleeping bags are open and you just lie there hoping the fatigue of day 8 will send you off regardless of the uncomfortable conditions.
I'm lucky that I'm getting sleep. The sail repair team have two spinnakers to sew, which they estimate will take two more days to complete. We can only hope that the winds stays low to remain in the Code 1 territory, as if it rises any more, then we would have to change to a Yankee head sail which would reduce the boat speed by around 3-4 knots and would certainly say goodbye to a top ten finish.
The lighter mood of the day is that it is Steve Mabey's birthday. At happy hour we shared cake in the sun, sung the song and gave him three cheers. Trimming continued during the festivities and GREAT Britain kept progressing south to the horizon.