What did the fish say when it hit the wall? Dam!!
As Mark Light, the Race Director, explains at the beginning of all of his Crew Briefings, you must always start with an icebreaker. The last 24 hours were so much less dramatic than the day before, so I feel that this blog will need a strong opening in order to maintain public interest.
As I sit here typing, we have just finished the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint. Although it started limply, with uncomfortable, lumpy seas, buckets of rain, and light, fickle winds, the way it ended was a lot more pleasant - barrelling along on flat(ish) seas, with a strong consistent breeze, and the speedo rarely dipping below 11 knots. If you have ever experienced really bad turbulence on a plane then you will be able to relate to our living conditions.
Yesterday was sailed under a piercing blue sky, and the night under a canopy of stars. We will have to wait to see what the sprint results are and for the official test results from the lab. Some of the yachts around us were going suspiciously fast... I joke. They were sailed excellently by clearly very determined teams and this is where the performance enhancement came from. Special honourable mention to the team on Dare To Lead who continue to report extremely high mileage.
The highlight of the day was definitely the completion of Dan and Alex's head shaving. It had been promised to Neptune but had been started in a rather half-hearted way during the Equator-crossing ceremony, as the big surf at the time had made wielding scissors close to peoples' heads a rather hazardous affair. So now our two fearless Watch Leaders are parading proudly around with bright white heads gleaming. Two mini-Wiggins, if you will.
On reading the Skipper Blogs from yesterday, with their talk of seeing seabirds that nest on passing islands, we did for a moment wonder if everyone has been observing the strict Clipper Race rule of maintaining a clear 3nm exclusion zone around any land. A brief check on their tracks confirmed that all was well, and so the trusty bible for all very amateur marine ornithologists was dragged out to make sure our own twitching was up to the required standard. ‘Seabirds of Southern Africa and the World’, by Gerald Tuck of the Royal Navy Ornithological Society (who knew there was one of those!), had accompanied me on my last Clipper Race circumnavigation, and, with its beautiful hand painted illustrations, provided me with just enough information to bluff convincingly until caught out by someone who actually knew something about birds.
I did also continue my ongoing unsuccessful war against couscous and chickpeas, which featured on the menu for both lunch and supper yesterday. Both meals were absolutely delicious, and they are both filling, healthy, long lasting, and easy to prepare. Angie our Victualler has used them in many interesting and innovative menus, but to my mind, neither, like curry, belong on an offshore race boat's menu. Sadly, it looks like I will continue to be ignored.
But now, this short blog must be brought to a close as I know that I am missing out some glorious sailing on deck. The sun is about to rise on a beautiful new day.
Here we go,
Ian and Mike