Leg 6 Race 8 Day 8, Tues April 27th

Tuesday 27th
At midnight I was standing in a pretty hot, sweaty forepeak. The off-watch sleeping (and snoring) around me and a sad, twisted tennis-court size pile of spinnaker lay at my feet. My task was to check it all over to see if there was any damage – and then repair it asap so it was ready to hoist at the earliest possible opportunity. On a down-wind leg, our mid-weight – or 'all purpose' kite was a key sail that we couldn't afford to be without.

It took me an hour just to untwist the whole thing – having to work each twist from the middle working my way up to the head and out and then back to the middle again. How anyone slept around me I don't know as the rustle of the material right next to various people's ears must have been incredibly loud – but I guess that once you've been on a boat for some time you get used to winches grinding, sails being dropped through the hatch and spinnakers being packed at all times of the day and night. This was just another one of those sounds of a racing yacht at work. Another hour and a half later, the sail had been checked and four areas of damage found. Nothing major but rips which would all need patching up and stitching – it was going to be a long night! At 3am watch-changeover I enlisted the help of Charlie and we set about the mountainous task of repairing the sail. Just over 8 straight hours and many cups of tea (and a brief stop for breakfast) later, we'd finally done. The four areas of damage repaired and sewn (on our machine which had a new motor fitted during last stop over and now purred like a kitten!), plus the other SIX (!) areas of damage that we subsequently found while fixing the other areas! So much for my thorough checking – although in my defence it had been done by the light of a head-torch!!!  So after one final thorough check, with the aid of daylight, Charlie and I staggered off to our bunks in a zombie like state, to catch up on some sleep, leaving the on watch to pack the patched up patient!

Having slept through lunch and the afternoon I was reunited with my watch again at 7pm ready all over again for another night watch! By now the winds were sufficiently light to warrant staying with the lightweight spinnaker overnight so my previous night's handiwork remained packed in a spinnaker bag, untested. The temperature is now hot enough to stay in shorts and t-shirts over-night. Long gone are those nights of 6 layers under full foulies and needing 45 minutes to get ready. I can now get up dressed and be on deck in just under 10!  Bliss!

Singapore had appeared on our AIS during the day and by the time we came back up at 3am on watch they were now clearly visible about a mile away on off our Port beam. We spend the next 2 hours trying to eke every extra bit of speed out of Umba and around 5am we close the gap and are crossing about 40 metres just behind the other yacht. Within the hour we manage to just creep ahead of them but the separation is minimal and while our paths diverge, we still appear to be neck and neck.