At sea we work on a 'watch' system, whereby the crew split into two groups - Port and Starboard - each having four hours on deck and four hours in the bunk - this is a proven system to ensure crew drive and efficiency. This morning the Port watch (my watch) were woken up at 0230hrs to get kitted up for the muster call on deck at 0300hrs. We were greeted on deck by a very thick and damp mist giving less than 30 metres visibility - and sadly a continuation of next to no wind. The job at hand was clear - to continue our leading position by 100 per cent focus on helming a straight course, using our navigation systems to avoid other vessels and most importantly trimming the sails to keep them full of wind to keep us moving forward - very challenging in the conditions but make or break in keeping the fleet behind.
The day continued with light winds and thick mist and it became more and more difficult to work out where we were positioned in relation to the other 11 yachts, our positioning became like a game of snakes and ladders. It was clear though that we had lost our leading position - team morale remained extremely high - it has emerged that the crew, encouraged by Patrick, our Skipper, has a strategy to win with a big emphasis in having fun at the same time!
At lunch time, (when both watches have an hour's get together) Kate, our Chief of Staff (COS), introduced us to Patricia, our team's mascot (a puppet!). She has come from the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, the official UK charity for the race.
The Trust takes young people aged between 8 and 24 sailing to help them regain their confidence, on their way to recovery from cancer and leukaemia. Patricia will be sailing round the world with us and young people from a hospital in Southampton will be following her progress via Facebook. Our first activity with Patricia was an interview filmed by Brian, our On Board Reporter (OBR) 90 foot up the mast!
Whilst all this was going on we continued our driven approach on helming and trimming and managed to keep in the leading pack of yachts - though not visible due to the mist, an occasional fog horn could be heard though making us push harder. In the early afternoon a message was received from Race Control that at 1500hrs UTC the race would end and the yacht nearest Creac'h Lighthouse on Ile d'Ouessant off France would win rather than going an additional 120 miles south to Brest which would take far too long. We were in good position but it was anyone's to win out of 7 yachts including Invest Africa and em>GREAT Britain.
We passed the line with no yachts to be seen, all very eerie, and then to our joy behind us emerged Qingdao and GREAT em>Britain - we await our final race position hoping for a dram of Old Pulteney on the podium in Brest...