Leg 6 Race 8 Day 5, Fri April 24th

Saturday 24th: 0300 – 0700
Although it's weird to be getting up at 2.30am I got a decent amount of sleep and although slightly cooler now, the addition of a fleece hat is all that's required to keep me warm. The stars are coming and going behind hop-scotch cloud and the winds which had lulled are now back up. We're flying along at a steady 13 knots which was good. The down-side meant everything was now much more loaded – winches, sheets and the helm which ruled me out of getting stuck in but I could still be a useful set of eyes on wind trends, spinnaker trim and generally on deck and was able to rescue a flailing guy several times and keep check on our navigation in between making the all important teas and coffees!!!

Was woken by Jeeves (Jezza) mid-morning who delivered a mug of tea to my bunk with my wake-up call -bless him! I decided to celebrate the lovely sunny day with a wet-wipe shower, a change of clothes and some newly plaited pig-tails (my chosen “Sailing” hair-do!). Sporting orange – “Real Sailors Do It With One Hull” T-shirt – (present from my brother) I bounced on deck to see what was occurring. What was occurring was an Orange Fest – the girls were all adorned with various bits of orange 'tat' plastic jewelery, all with freshly painted orange toe-nails and poor Mike was trying to fend them off from plonking a set of orange earrings on him and bullying him into donning a pair of orange tights! Mike looked at me for help and bribed me to wear the orange tights for him – promising to lavish Shortbread biscuits on me. What can I say... after 8 months of living on the same boat, the man knows how to get around me! Already salivating at the thought of shortbread, I leapt into the luminous orange, Lycra monstrosities and danced my way back onto deck singing the theme tune from Fame at full volume! It was a shame I didn't have the leg-warmers to match – but you can't have everything! We took orange photos, I agreed to have my toenails painted too and sat in sunny anticipation waiting for my Orange lunch!  Nobody could accuse us of not sporting the Team colours!!!!

Today was our first day of shorts and t-shirts – and while the air was still chilly – meaning in reality, breeze jackets were quickly added back on, we all felt that we were well on our 'run to the sun' and were also aware that within 3 or 4 days the chances are we would be moaning about how hot and stifling it was!!! The wind has been shifting about from north west to north east and playing havoc with our run in to the next waypoint – which we have to keep to our starboard side. As the afternoon motors on it starts to look doubtful we can get far enough east to round it with the spinnaker flying but after a couple of hours of tweaking the pole forwards and backwards and working hard both on the helm and with the trim we finally just squeak around the virtual mark “Eugenie”. It's become apparent today that the fleet further east were never held up by lighter winds and if anything have had a steadily stronger wind than us. It's obvious we are not going to get to the scoring gate in time to get any points so instead we focus on the next way point – which is the first potential finishing gate. This route is notorious for high pressure systems and wind-holes and previous races have all had to be called to an early finish so the fleet don't get stuck wallowing in a windless open-air oven for days on end. So we have 3 potential finish gates all spaced out between us and the finish line proper. If it looks like the fleet is going to get holed-up the office with give us 24 hours notice of finishing the race at one of the earlier marks. So our race is now to catch up with the leaders before we reach the first of those if we want to have any chance of a podium position.

We are slightly frustrated again… it seems to be the story of our race – always going out on a limb in search of stronger winds – which we often get – but once again the lighter winds that were forecast further east didn't arrive and we've ended up sailing more miles and slipping down the positions as a result. It's particularly disheartening when we've sailed hard and fast and have been making really good speeds. We've just gone further than everyone else – again! Our task is to stay focused though. If the front runners hit a wind-hole the entire fleet could soon be bunched up together again so we could still have a chance to fight our way back into the race.