Leg 5, Race 7 – Day 26, 26th March

5am – whack! – I rolled with some force from one side of my bunk into my leecloth. Whack! The boat angled sharply back the other way again. “Shit!” Was my immediate reaction. I knew the boat sounds enough to know we'd just crash gybed – twice. As soon as it happened I also heard the wind whistle up to a crescendo. It was obvious we'd had a repeat performance of 5 or so days earlier. I struggled out of my bed and into my clothes as fast as I could – which let's face it wasn't very fast with an arm in a sling – and once in the nav saw the graphs confirm that the wind has indeed shifted by 60 degrees in a few seconds and at the same time had increased by 25 knots!  Tom's voice had been heard immediately – instructing the helm to keep the wind at 90 degrees and instantly getting on deck to make the boom safe and check the crew were all ok. They were, but we had broken both preventers and done a fair bit of damage to the main traveller.  I felt pretty useless but was aware the best thing I could do was make sure the kettle was on as tea and coffee would be required sooner or later and there may well be a few people in shock, who would need looking after. Brendan also asked me to monitor the comms in the nav station as he was worried about SoA and California in these conditions. SoA soon came on to confirm that they too had been caught out by the very sudden and extreme wind shift and had also crash gybed – I then had an “anything you can do we can do better” conversation with Bob from SoA on the radio, which ended up in me conceding that they had crash gybed more spectacularly as they had done more damage to their traveller than we had!

During all this we lost sight of California, as the people posted to keep an eye on them had become distracted. That was our worst nightmare and having confirmed with SoA that they too had lost sight they decided to turn around and back-track to try and narrow the field while we kept on course. Soon we had sight of them again so all was well but it was a real fear that once we lost a visual on the US boat, even though they would only be a few miles away - it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack once they were out of range of their radio.

Once everything was settled down and we were back on course and all in convoy, Brendan had more messages for me to write out and once finished I tackled washing off the tools that had been used earlier in the repairs – to clean the salt-water off and to add WD40 to the moving parts to keep them in good condition. Pretty well anything metal on a boat rusts so quickly and it's like fighting a losing battle trying to keep things in good working condition – essential however as once at sea you only have the tools you have to facilitate any repairs – you lose them and you’re stuffed – so to speak!