Leg 6 Race 8 Day 14, Mon May 3rd  

Monday 3rd May

It may be bank holiday Monday at home but here in the North Atlantic it's just another day of racing. Last night treated me to my first half-way decent night of stars – although there was still a haze of cloud, most of the constellations I'd been learning about were visible and I've now been talking about it all so much several of the other crew are picking up on it and finding they too can name some of the stars – although mainly they just take the mickey out of me! We were also treated to a rare light show in the water. Albert and I had only been discussing (over a little light sail repair recently) that we hadn't seen any phosphorescence in the sea so far this leg. Now we were looking at a light show, which looked like disco lights flashing from below the surface of the water. Spotlights of light all around us lighting up then fading away, as if in time to some mysterious rhythm of the sea. I could have watched for ages but in a frustrating time of no breeze at all, the rest of the watch were reluctant to take the helm with the boat going nowhere fast and poor John who'd been on for an hour was virtually begging someone to take over. After all the effort we'd put in over the last week to keep the boat moving and improve our race position, I wasn't about to let a bit of heat and lethargy get in the way, so stepped up to the helm. We were indeed going nowhere fast and with the windseeker poled out it was almost impossible to tell where the spinning wind was coming from. I immediately suggested we ditch the pole and let the windseeker do what it does best – seek the wind – which is what we did and before long we'd eeked out a knot of boat speed, then 2, then 3 and were at least moving – and vaguely in the right direction. I stuck it out for 2 hours concentrating on every little sniff of wind trying to respond to the tiniest bit of pressure and harness it in the sails. At times we got up to 4 and sometimes 5 knots and others back to 000 again – but never for more than a few seconds before we were back up to at least 3 knots again. It may not have seemed much but when we took over we were 4 miles behind Singapore and when I handed over the helm we had closed the gap to a fraction over a mile behind them. It was a hugely satisfying to see that 2 hours of continued effort did actually make a difference and I went to bed a satisfied customer!

The rest of the day was spent chasing Singapore again. According to the next scheds we were ahead of them now – just – but we kept our eye on them through the binoculars on he horizon, watching them continue to battle with their medium weight spinnaker in the light airs of the morning. By the end of the day we were officially in 5th place but with only 8 miles separating 5th and 8th place it's hardly time to stop and celebrate. However we take heart that 5th is attainable and that Edinburgh are now only 18 miles in front. With 800 miles still to go to the finish 4th place could still be in our grasp! The mood on board is focussed but relaxed. It's hot which makes living conditions very difficult but there are no frayed tempers and everyone puts up with the heat with good humour and the odd bucket of sea water thrown over them!