Leg 6 Race 8 Day 7, Mon April 26th

Monday 26th
Second Night watch (3am – 7am) was more generous with its cloud than stars and I was allowed only the occasional peep of my new twinkly acquaintances. I'm still getting used to going to bed at 7am. My body clock is struggling to adjust to this 48 hour watch cycle. It takes me ages to get to sleep and then when I'm woken to get up for the next watch, I tend to be in a deep, deep sleep which takes me ages to drag myself out of. Hence lunch was eaten on deck today, through bleary eyes and only semi-conscious taste-buds!

The heat has turned up another degree or 5, the sunscreen is being slapped on like it's going out of fashion and shorts, T-shirts and sunglasses are very much the standard order of the day now. We are purportedly in 8th position, although Justin says that's not a true reflection of our position as we are quite a lot further south than a few other boats. It's disappointing nonetheless, as we have worked hard consistently on our speed and spinnaker trimming. We know that realistically our only chance of catching the leading boats in this race is if they all hit a windhole and the fleet bunches up again. It would then be a question of who fights their way into some breeze first! Yet again the wind shifts are not in our favour and we are forced to sail right on an angle right on the edge of our capability with the kite up. Trimming and helming becomes more critical, so an afternoon of good concentration and a good workout on the coffee-grinder was in order. We are now in the habit of changing down to the midweight kite for night sailing – which we duly did at watch changeover at 7pm, so a few of us stayed up a little longer to help pack the lightweight kite before going to our increasingly hot bunks, for a few hours rest or sleep.

10.30pm comes around far too quickly. I still struggle to get up for the 11pm – 3am night watch and find the opposite day of 7pm – 11pm and then 3am to 7am much easier to deal with.  Still 11pm arrived and we were all on deck raring to go - if a little bleary-eyed. The wind is starting to get flaky. We are counting our blessings for every hour we still have of half-way decent winds and boat speed and are expecting our progress to slow right down at every watch change-over. Tonight we are still moving but the winds are shifting around – not in our favour and we are sailing very deep down-wind – which is always a fine balance between speed, course and making sure we don't accidentally gybe. After an hour of trying to fly a frequently collapsing kite, our fears were realised and the clew of the sail got twisted the wrong way around the body of the sail. The wind then picked up and tried to fill the kite, which twisted it further and the situation from then on got progressively worse. After 15 minutes of trying every combination of easing the sheets, changing our bearing to wind and pulling on various lines, we were forced to admit that we were not going to rescue the situation. We would have to get the sail down – the only question was 'could we?' as it was now wrapped around the inside of the anti-wrap net (!) and then numerous times around the inner forestay! How it hadn't ripped to shreds we didn't know, and how we got it down without having to cut it down is a minor miracle, but down it came (eventually) and was piled into the forepeak, where I soon followed to assess the situation.