Monday 19th October

Nightwatch whizzed by last night – it obviously pays to be busy and I managed to break up the evening into bite-sized sections.  Tom, who has been standing in as our watch-leader, has been very organised and given us half-hour slots for helming during the evening/night and made clear that as part of our duties, we then go on to check sail trim in the half hour after our helm.  So once I knew my schedule, I was able fit in a couple of hours of logging video (part of my media role responsibilities) and an hour’s kip in the saloon – something we tried to rota round the whole team during the night watch when we weren't busy with sail change evolutions.

As the wind has increased and has now moved round to the East we our flying our heavyweight spinnaker again at night.  The helming, while not too heavy, is still pretty challenging and takes all your concentration for the half hour you are on.  You're constantly checking your course, keeping aware of any changes in wind strength and direction and with the chase on to catch Qingdao, also trying your best to keep the speed up as much as possible.  After a few accidents with getting two of our spinnakers wrapped already this leg, we're also watching the sails like a hawk for signs of collapse that could lead to a wrap around either the inner-forestay or around the spreaders – both of which is likely to lead to damage and more work for Super Sail Repair Girl!

So night-watch passed quickly with jobs completed and two helming sessions of hard concentration – although I did manage to catch a whole host of shooting stars... out of the corner of my eye!

This morning dawned and it was obvious it was going to be yet another scorcher. The bikini top went on and was quickly followed by bikini bottoms in a reckless 'doffing of shorts' to try and tone down the very white short marks that now adorned all of our bodies.  After all Rio (and Copacabana beach) was now only a matter of days away and I had hopes of a quick hour or so on the famous stretch of sand if nothing else.
It was indeed even hotter – hardly surprising when yesterday we had been in the unique position of having the sun directly overhead. (we all took pictures of each other with no shadow!). It was high and it was hot and the number of very strange red and white life jacket, sandal and short marks that decorated all the crew – along with tributaries of sweat running of us all was proof of that.  Once on deck you choose your spot and stick to it – if you move you the risk burning your feet - or your bottom - on a bit of the deck that has taken on the properties of hot coals!

We had two blows to our race and to our morale today.  The first was the news that Clipper have decided to end the race at midday tomorrow.  So whatever positions the boats are in at the time will be our finishing positions for this leg.  Most of us are unhappy with this decision and a few are hopping mad.  Although Qingdao do have a 50 mile lead on us, we have been and want to continue to try and chase them down until the original finish line.  Apparently there is a bit of a wind-hole close to the finish that some of the boats ahead of us have 'parked up' in. But we are sailing well and racing hard so are pretty fed-up that our last opportunity to prove ourselves will be taken away from us – but hey most of us realise that's life!  If nothing else, a month on the yacht dealing with 17 other personalities and opinions has taught most of us a greater level of acceptance.  Two months ago I probably would have been ranting and railing at this decision.  Now I'm disappointed... but I'll live!

The second blow came as we were still discussing the first one. There was suddenly the sound of a collapsing spinnaker from on deck and the relative inexperience of most of us resulted in the helmsman correcting the wrong way and a full blown spinnaker wrap was the result.  As I was off-watch I did what anyone who has spent as much time working in News as I have, would do – and reached for the video camera! The on-watch then spent a tough 40 minutes trying first to untangle the wrap and when that didn't work then spiked it and dropped it. The good news was that worked, the bad news is that it got pretty severely ripped in the process.  But hey, - I got some great footage!!!