Leg 6 Race 8 Day 16, Weds May 5th   
Wednesday 5th

When I did awake – at around 5am (my watch having decided to let me sleep through the 11pm – 3am watch) it was because the boat suddenly lurched heavily over to one side and my nose was firmly pressed up against the side of my locker. I then heard the cry “Just get it down” so assumed that we had lost another shackle on the spinnaker halyard. It all seemed to be under control and the next thing was the sound of heavy rain on deck – a sure sign that a heavy squall had suddenly crept up on us. I hauled myself out of bed – still feeling a tad sick but fully rested. Just as well because in the saloon was a spinnaker. Not laid out in the normal way with the head at one end of the forepeak and the 2 clews either side of the companion way ready for packing. No! This had been unceremoniously dumped on the seats of the saloon. Tom greeted me with a wry smile and pointed to the red and blue tapes that run down each side of the sail. Except these tapes didn't have any sail attached to them! He then pointed to two piles of spinnaker. The problem was that there weren't 2 spinnakers, it was one spinnaker but completely in 2 halves! We had had our first full-on spinny blow out!
It seems the on-watch had spotted the squall coming and were in the process of changing down sails when the first gust came through – from 11 knots to 33 knots in about 30 seconds. The sheet had been locked off and so couldn't be eased in time and the sail just gave out. The general consensus was that this was far too damaged to be repaired and initially I was inclined to agree. But once again the Parsons stubbornness kicked in and after 3 people told me it couldn't be repaired I was already reaching for the acetone and dacron repair tape. This sail would be resurrected if it took me all the way back to Hull!!!  We also stood to lose race points for sail damage if we didn't repair it and having worked so hard to try and improve our standings in the race, I wasn't about to let us slip back down the table for want of a bit of effort.

Ok – I had to admit – it was more than a bit of effort, and without having a really good look at it, it sounded like it may well be a four days round the clock repair we had on our hands! I made a start and soon had a plan. I would lead the repairs on my watch and then hand over to Charlie (alias Bobbin Babe) who would pick up from me and lead on the opposite watch. We'd reattach the sail to the tapes first and then deal with 3-meter rip across the clew and finally attempt to patch the two halves of the sail back together. It all sounded pretty simple but I was aware that it would be quite a challenge – even for the Mighty Super Sail repair Girl!

The saloon quickly became our Operating theatre, our 'patient' – the spinnaker was soon on the operating table and the first dacron stitches were being applied! Like any mountainous task, actually starting was the hardest part, but once off, and with the help of copious amounts of tea, coffee and biscuits (essential tools of the trade) we soon had one of the side tapes back attached to the sail and were more optimistic about our patients survival and long-term prognosis!