Race 6 Day 9 10th February

Yesterday evening was watch change-over. The whole crew are split into four groups and two watches (Port and Starboard watch). There are two groups per watch and every four days two of the groups changes watch, so each group has 8 days per watch but will be with two other groups on that watch within that time (I hope you're following this!). I've been on Port watch since race start and yesterday at 8pm, moved to starboard watch. This meant instead of starting night watch at 8pm, I went to bed – hoorah! It also meant that I was being rudely awoken at 1.30 this morning for a 6 hour night watch starting at 2am (not so good!). The other not so good thing about waking at that time was that it was very hot, which meant no breeze coming through the open hatches, which in turn meant that we had lost speed.

Once on deck this was confirmed by the lack of water rushing past the hull, the numbers on the dial and that fact that we could see Cape Breton had crept up 3 miles on us and appeared to be going nearly 2 knots faster! A quick discussion between skipper and new watch-leader Jo, followed and the decision was taken to take a slight hit on our angle east in favour of being able to reach with the lightweight spinnaker which would give us more speed. All the lines and rigging for flying spinnakers had been stowed as we hadn't been expecting to fly one again this race, so we all set about getting the guys, sheets and the pole rigged ready for a hoist in super quick time. Before we knew it – and almost certainly just as Cape Breton would have been cheering over the miles they had made on us at the last sched, we were suddenly doing 8, 8 ½, sometimes 9 knots, nearly 2 knots faster than them. It was a great feeling to be helming with a spinnaker flying again. The boat has a great feel about it and when a gust comes. You feel the sail power up, you get a surge of adrenaline through the veins - it's one of the best feelings in the world! It was also great to know we were now snatching back some miles from our nearest rivals!

All that excitement was obviously too much for me and what started as a bad case of stomach ache escalated into pretty awful cramps and a good case of the vomits. Don't know where that came from as it was too long after supper to be food poisoning. At any rate the rest of my watch was spent curled up in the saloon, hugging a beaker of water and feeling sorry for myself! If you're ill at sea you just have to take yourself off to bed or grin and bear it. We all carry a good supply of first aid kit, pills, potions and lotions on board and all the skippers have their Ships medic qualifications. However we've all been extremely careful not to get injured since Piers explained how during training he'd practised suturing on an orange, hadn't ever done it on a real person but if any of us cut ourselves he was more than happy "to give it a go"! Since then we've been a remarkably healthy bunch! Although the wind was on a downward trend we kept the spinnaker going and while our speed was falling, so was that of Cape Breton. The more worrying thing was that Jamaica have been gradually creeping up on us over the last 3 days and are now dangerously close. They've narrowed the gap to just 9 miles (they have overtaken Cape Breton) and look like they have wind and are still moving at a good pace. Piers is confident that they will hit our light wind patch too but we are now less than 3 days to the scoring gate and it would be soul destroying to have points snatched from us at the last minute. No wind also means the temperature is still very hot, so having packed all my bikinis and vest tops away in my 'no need to open until Qingdao bag' I found myself rummaging through it for the fifth time since 'organising'! It's supposed to be blowing a hoolie and significantly colder by now! Grrrrr! Still – we're not complaining the more days we have of good weather the fewer days we are likely to have of bad – although the transition between the two could be somewhat sharp! The key thing is we have to stay in front, we have to be first to the scoring gate for the 3 points and then off and up to Qingdao. We've promised ourselves a podium finish and we're going all out to get it. I just hope the weather Gods don't have other plans!