One of the incredible things about this last week of racing is how quickly the tempo of the race changes day to day. It’s not just to do with the weather and the wind, though the contrast Saturday to Saturday could not be more stark. This time last week I was putting in some relaxed but fast miles south, in T shirt and shorts still in the trades. Today I am ghosting along the top of the ice limit in a southerly breeze that feels like it is coming straight off Antartica. The boat is shrouded in a wet, cold mist, my fingers needed warming up to type, we are working our way gently east, waiting for the next big blow to catch up with us.

I think the changes in tempo are also driven by what the boat and I need on a daily basis to ensure we can succeed and stay in the race. What is the most important thing to us at any given time. While we were blasting along ahead of the front mid week, the most important thing was keeping the pace on, keeping me fed and rested and watching every detail on deck like a hawk to ensure of no problems. My entire focus shrank to the size of the boat, it was all about the details. Hour to hour in conditions like these I need to religiously check that all the lines in the cockpit are still tucked into their bags as every way tries to pull them out, and they can quickly clog cockpit drains, go over the side and around rudders or around the hydrogen. The environment is challenging, I am constantly wet through, battling to try and retain some dry space to live in down below, some dry space to sleep in. In these circumstances life is small, my focus is tight.

I was disappointed when I eventually fell off the back of the front, it’s especially gutting when the boats ahead keep pushing along in the breeze. But quickly I adapted to my new environment, with life not being so physical I could zoom out, take a long look at the world ahead and change the tempo. Yesterday was a completely different day. I left the boat to pretty much sail itself, checking in now and again, course, speed trim. Then I set to work on making sure Medallia was in good shape and ready for the next big blow that catches us up.

Fuelled all day by tea ( this was a real treat I have not been drinking nearly enough tea so far on this race) I worked my way through the boat and through the job list, fixing all of the little niggles that have developed over the last week and doing routine maintenance where I could. The work took me into the transom with the steering quadrants, out onto the end of the boom to fix a reefing line jammer, I serviced winches in the cockpit, and then finally went into the keel box and changed over a keel line. It was a full day, and my focus was long. I had the rest of the world in my mind and was working to ensure that Medallia and I have the best chance of finishing this race possible.

Today will be a different day again. The tools are away and I am waiting for the wind to transition from South to North, there will be some sticky sailing while the new breeze establishes itself then gradually over the next 24 hours the breeze will build and it will be time to get locked and loaded for a blast to the East as the next low pressure system barrels up behind me.




Source link