Leg 8, Week 2 and 5 more days

On the way to Derry, Northern Ireland

So we’ve spent the last couple of days bobbing about under the Azores high, aka a massive wind hole. To reflect our various windless states, Visit Seattle has been renamed on the navigation system as “More wind please” after an optimistic “we’re going to getcha”. With 50+ miles between us and the nearest boats ahead, this high hasn’t done our 11th place position any favours as the other boats managed to break out of it earlier, but it has been great for bikinis on deck and wildlife spotting. WOne day, after a particularly sleepy brutal 2am start, we were finally awoken from our semi-conscious state by 1 or 2 whales swimming around the boat. These weren’t just whales in the distance either: they were up close and personal, you could see their backs and fins as they came up for air. In the end, the huge whales swam around us for an hour or so, surfacing every 5-10 minutes. Every time they surfaced, huge bubble craters were left on the surface of the water, filled with glassy water. After months of calling “Heeeeere Whaley, Whaley” with me, Lucy (whale whisperer extraordinaire) didn’t believe that we’d spotted whales at first, then she saw the amazing whale action and became a believer. As the sun rose, we all clustered at the bow trying to capture that perfect “whale plus sunrise” action shot. Suddenly, Whale action wasn’t enough for Lucy. Whales acquired rude prefixes as they refused to swim in front of the sunrise. We also wanted some Dolphins to frolic around them to make it even better but rudely, none appeared. We are clearly spoilt on this boat.

Unimpressed with photos being taken of me during whale-spotting

The totally calm water has made spotting other wildlife easy this week. We’ve had Portuguese Man of War jelly fish sail by – somewhat deadly but cool to see with their jelly sails above the water. We’ve also had regular visits by dolphins playing at the bow again, although they are definitely different species to those in the Pacific. We also saw some verrrrry lazy looking things that were somewhere between Dolphins and whales – bigger than Dolphins with no long nose but smaller than whales. What they were, nobody knows. It turns out these were pilot whales as we saw them again during happy hour one day when Huw was able to clarify. Apparently, these are the happy whales you would draw as a kid, lots of them swimming together. So much whale action!

When not whale-spotting, we’ve just been occasionally gybing on deck and mostly chatting. iPads/kindles are now the standard accessory that accompany crew members on deck to while away the hours. Lots of conversations have been had about Brexit (“how the hell did that happen?!” “We’re doomed!” “Glad we’re not at home right now”) and we’ve had fun coming up with names for the remainder of the England when London, Scotland and Northern Ireland break off to form a new UK and the rest is left. Our current name is “Middle England”. Not quite middle earth, but not far off. Alongside Brexit, sunny calm weather means there have also been lots of conversations have about life after the boat and our stopover in Derry. As we’re in Derry for 10 days, possibly more, some crew are considering flying home for a few days and then returning for the remainder of the race. I can see why they’d consider this: it’s actually cheaper than staying in Derry for that time and gives them the opportunity to see loved ones, but I feel I’ve got to stay. My adventure has been all about sailing home from Seattle, so as much as I want to see Steve, a cheeky flight in the middle for me would break the Clipper spell. Only a month now until race finish…

Now, the food this week has been exceptional and definitely deserves a blog mention. Yesterday it was Amancio’s turn to be mother. How we wonder what he could create if only he was in a proper kitchen! Despite being in a confined galley, Amancio managed to pull off lemon, ginger & herb roasted salmon with roasted tomatoes and risotto with a starter of fresh guacamole on crackers and then pineapple for dessert for 20-odd people. So, so, SO good. Seriously, we eat like kings on this boat. This was followed the next day by pan-fried herb chicken with a selection of roast veggies & rosemary potatoes cooked by Lars & Jan. I’m now writing a list of recipes so that I remember to make these meals back home. Nom nom nom…

After being becalmed for the beginning of the week, the wind has now finally picked up so off we go with downwind sailing in constant cloud. It’s back to foulies on deck as we all feel damp, but there have been some glorious moments. One of my favourites so far was helming with the code 1 spinnaker up, something I’ve previously found pretty scary. It was a beautiful day, suns out, guns out and I couldn’t stop grinning for the fact we were sailing. I was driving a 70FT YACHT in the middle of the ATLANTIC OCEAN. Ohhhhh yeaaaaaaaah! It was also rather gratifying later that night to sail to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune: so much more relevant when actually on a boat.

It’s now been a few days since the spinnakers have gone up, and helming conditions have varied quite considerably. I’ve decided I’m going to nail this helming malarkey (or just be slightly more competent) so I was really chuffed when I was congratulated on a stint during twilight of one watch. The nights at the moment are a deep, thick grey due to the fog making helming particularly tricky. I was only helming for 30minutes but I felt like a champion afterwards. Chaaaaaaampioooooon!

The lack of sail changes at the moment means I’m back on the calories in exceeding calories out, so I’m seeking exercise where I can. A leak from our water tanks mean that cleaning the bilges is a particular workout at the moment. This has to be done once a watch where 3 floorboards are taken out and an inverted bottle/sponge is used to scoop out the water that is then chucked overboard. This morning it was 7 buckets from 1 bilge and 3 buckets from the others: quite a workout once you’ve managed to get into the bilge, get yourself out with a full bucket, balance said bucket to prevent water from sloshing everywhere then get said bucket up the stairs, the finale being a long-range chuck of the water over the deck. Sweaty work. It’s made more sweaty today as there is a long rolling swell on the Atlantic, the first time I’ve seen this really outside of a storm. Every other wave, we’ll rise up so that we can see out over the ocean before swooping down in between the next wave. This makes seeing wildlife brilliant as they’re at the same height as you in the water.

Other than duties below, on deck there are 3 main responsibilities at moment: helming, trimming and grinding. Helming involves the concentration I described earlier, trimming involves holding onto the kite sheet (rope) for long periods of time, your hand turning into a claw from hanging on too tight. Grinding mostly involves sitting in style but being ready to jump up and work the pedestal arms at a moment’s notice. Grinding is my particular favourite (I like to think of it as high intensity interval training, just with really long intervals), trimming is not. When trimming, you’re supposed to look at the kite so that you can tell the grinder when to grind, but for some reason, I find this deeply soothing. Finally I nodded off whilst trimming, only to be caught by my crew mates (usually I can get by with resting just one eye at a time, one eye open, one eye shut). Despite nodding off, somehow, I was still holding onto the rope. I fear this may be repeated.

Whilst all this “action” has been going on, the Clipper a Race office have extended the race course for us, adding on an extra 500 miles to prevent the lead boats arriving in Derry to early. We’re currently in 11th place, so we’re not the biggest fans of this extension as it takes you around a random rock north of Ireland. As an alternative, Tino has written a blog post to the race office suggesting a different course around the other side of Ireland. I would LOVE IT if we did this, chances of it happening? Low, very low.

As we’re heading further north, it’s getting very much colder on deck, so we joke that we’re dressed for the British summer, ie wearing most of the layers we own. Time seems to be passing very, very slowly, not helped by the race extension to Rockhall: a tiny rock waaaaaay out west. For 3 days now, we’ve been 5 days out from Derry. Time is standing still. The only advantage of being out here are the nights: we’re now so far north that it no longer truly gets dark at night. Even at 2am, there is a smudge of light on the horizon – I think in retrospect, that’ll make this extension worth it.

On our final day of week 2, the weather has got rainier, colder and upwind making us even more keen to get there. Rain lashes into our faces, our foulies are permanently drenched and for many of us, our feet wet as boots give into the water. I’m sitting writing this blog now in said foulie bottoms and boots at a silly angle whilst it tips it down outside: I’m not looking forward to putting my sopping wet smock back on. But, it’s been a great week for birthdays. Two days ago it was mine (a separate blog entirely) and now it’s midnight on the 4th July: Emily’s birthday!

Emily’s birthday didn’t get off to the best start as a storm hit that night, the result being Lars breaking a rib after falling around the helm. Emily’s birthday did, however, involve LOTS of face paint, the best being Emily herself when she fell asleep with “it’s my birthday” written on her face alongside a USA bow tie in her hair and a lei around her neck. Brilliant.

The birthday girl in all her glory

The running joke in this boat has been is that it’s always “5 more days” to Derry after this was our ETA for several days running at happy our (our daily team update from Huw). This sums up how it’s felt on the boat this week: so, so, slow. Every time we ask, it’s always 5 more days to Derry. The race extension to Rockall hasn’t helped as we managed to rip our code 2 spinnaker down the middle on the way there, the very first time this has happened to Visit Seattle during the race. This is pretty good going to be fair, as this has happened to other boats several times during the race. The trip to Rockahll took us closer to Iceland than Ireland as every watch we continued to get colder. Despite it being July, my feet end up icy cold every single watch despite trying various combinations of sealskin socks, normal socks and plastic bags. My boots are just so wet, nothing seems to work. This means I’ve now cracked out the sleeping bag in all its glory along with cosy socks plus a hot water bottle from Emily, IN JULY. Just to warm up my toes. On the way back from Rockhall, which apparently just looks like a Christmas pudding in the middle of nowhere, the weather was somewhat fruity so trying to stay in said sleeping bag was a mission as I was on the high side. Luckily, I can wedge my knees by the pipe that runs along my bunk to stop me from falling out, but it’s not been the best week for sleep. Only 5 more days…

What feels like 5 days later, we’re now bobbing about by Rathkin Ireland, about 25 miles from the finish line and spirits are not particularly high. As we’re literally going nowhere, the disco light has been cracked out and everyone rather than dancing is glued to their phones trying to connect to 3G signal. No one is particularly happy. On one side, we can see Scottish islands, on the other Ireland. The wonderful thing is the smell though: the smell of British green, like it smells in the Lake District when it’s been raining. I’ve been standing at the back of the boat doing some deep breathing – so good.

About 30mins later…Happiness returned in the form of WIND! Jesse sweated up the staysail in the ridiculously light winds we had then literally, KAPOW! The wind picked up and before you know it, we were storming it to the finish line at a ridiculous angle. We only had about 40minutes of watch left at this point and around 2 hours to go to the finish line. Unfortunately, this did mean waking up from a deep sleep to experience race finish: not an exciting prospect when you’re in 10th place. Ah well, all part of the adventure! I did make sure that I got back into bed as swiftly as possible though to take advantage of my hot water bottle in there. Off to sleep and then before you know it, we were in Derry with just 5 minutes for me to get up, into kit and on deck. Go go go! Derry here we come…

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Leg 8, Week 1: Noises

Knock knock
After 10 days ashore, I’m back on the boat, once more lying in my bunk wi my knees knocking from side to side with the motion of the boat. It’s the 6 hour off watch but I’m a little too hot, my sleeping bag being the beast at is combined with he fact we’re travelling with the Gulf Stream. It’s really rather warm below decks as the water temperature heats up the boat so sleeping is rather similar to what it was like in the tropics. Time for a blog instead I think!
Whrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

I was very glad to get back on the boat. Despite having a comfy bed waiting for me everyday in New York, I didn’t get he chance to recharge my batteries quite as I’d hoped on land and I missed the simplicity of eat, sleep, sail, repeat. Now I have the opportunity to sleep every 4/6 hours again, to think mostly about food all the time and enjoy the soothing whir of the generator to send me off to sleep once I’m in my bunk. I’ve actually done rather well on the sleep front this week as I managed to get 13 hours sleep after mother duty, was on deck for 3 hours and was then back off-watch for 6 hours after that. 19 hours of sleep in 24 hours? My kind of day! Breaking out of the watch system is never, ever a problem.


Whoooooooooooooosh

It’s 3.08pm on day 3 of the race as I write this, and the weather is definitely not what we had on Leg 7. It’s endlessly grey outside, with a constant whooshing as we surf across waves, very much like what we had during Storm Colin infact. Often, it absolutely hammers it down with rain, so below decks it feels like you’re in a floating angled tent. (Yep, we’re heeled over again). The deck transmits noise worryingly well so you hear every whoosh, wash and trickle when lying in bed. Up on deck, it’s been foulies all the way, some even cracking out drysuits it’s that soggy. I’ve often awoken off watch to the sound of so much water whooshing by that I quickly check the porthole, assuming that it’s rushing into our corridor it’s so loud. Luckily, That’s only happened once so far on day 1. Despite the grim weather outside, it’s tropical below decks so Every now and then, portholes have been opened to allow us some relief from the sweat box below. Unfortunately, unlike Leg 7, it’s definitely not dry enough for this. This is proven by the large waves that occasionally wash down the hatch into the galley or onto bunks where portholes are open, often ccompanied by “whoops!” Of joy on deck as those on watch surf down the rolling grey waves.  
Drip

A few watches in, and so far, time seems to be passing veeeerrrrrryyyyy veeeeerrrrryyyy s-l-o-ooooooowly. There’s lots to do on deck as we’re having to constantly reef and shake out reefs with the changing weather, but when we’re not, it feels like forever sitting outside, each of us motionless and dripping with water, trying to stay anchored to our chosen spot as the boat rolls and tips. We’re each sealed in: fashion for the week is walking trousers, merino long sleeved top, duvet jacket, foulies then boots and I damned well make sure that every toggle, strap and tab is adjusted securely to minimise water getting in. This generally means I get out of this kit pretty dry(ish) the only flaw being my boots. 2 days in and they are already squelching, their waterproof properties clearly long gone. Nice.

CRACK

For the first time last night, we went through the middle of an electrical storm, I mean really through the middle. We saw & heard lightening getting closer and closer until a huge crack was heard as a bolt very, very nearly hit the boat. We don’t think it did quite hit it as the electrics weren’t blown, however, apparently no-one saw the bolt go into the water. Again, being off watch meant this was an audible event rather than visual! A little too close for comfort perhaps.
Aaaaaarrrrgggghhh

Yes, a token bit of rage already. Being tired makes everyone a little more quick to anger on this boat. I’m back in the same bunk I was before, an upper one on the starboard side. Leo (my bunk buddy) has kindly got my huuuge sleeping back out for me so that I can get cosy and warm ASAP but I’m currently cursing this thing: with the bunk hitched up, I can barely get in! Water on the walls means my climbing technique is ultra lethal at the moment, resulting in me getting stuck earlier. Queue me stuck on my front in my bunk with my lee-cloth strap wrapped around my arms so I can’t tie myself in nor can I roll over to actually manoeuvre. This was quite amusing for everyone else though. The real argh is for WHALES though. THE OTHER WATCH SAW WHALES! Damn damn damn…

Heeeeeeere Whaley Whaley Whaley Whaley…”

Surely this has got to work eventually, right?
Aaaaaaaah! (As in “oh nooo!”)

That was the sound I made as we broached whilst I was on mother watch (aka tipped over to an extreme angle violently). Whilst we mothers galliantly held on to the veg prepared for the nights dinner, 4 cereal boxes decide to fling themselves out of one of the galley cubby holes , land on me and absolutely COVER me and the galley in muesli, somehow entirely missing Leo. Add in some rice noodles into the mix and it was a strong, dusty look, muesli in my hair, on my face, down my clothes. Muesli, German muesli everywhere. It took hours to clean up having made its way into every possible place in the galley (linseeds: spawn of the devil to clear up). The irony wasn’t lost on everyone that it was me that was covered in muesli though. Now had it been granola…
Aaaaaaaah! (as in “this is the life”)

This is the life. The last few days of this week has returned us to the calmer waters and the flatter boat of leg 7. It’s still chilly at night but it’s now easier to move around, easier to sleep and all-round, more positive. I’ve been living on this boat for the best part of 2 months now but have to keep reminding myself what a special experience this is. Standing on deck and looking out to sea, you become conscious that you really are in the middle of a vast OCEAN on a PLANET, and wow, isn’t it big: 1,300 miles in, still around 1,800 to go before we get to Ireland. Some highlights his week have been when we had 2 beautiful vivid rainbows at sunset against a golden sky, shortly after accompanied by Dolphins. 


We’ve had dolphins playing around us today too, around 20-30 of them slowing down with us as we’ve bobbed into wind holes and then speeding up as we pick up speed. If you stand at the front of the boat, you can see them swimming directly below you, sometimes up to 8 at a time dancing across the bow, surfacing for air or demo-img a little jump every now and then. It’s amazing that they don’t bash into each other or the boat. You can see them so clearly that individual dolphins can be distinguished by the marks on their backs. And what did we see the other day? A WHALE! Yes, finally, huge plumes of water could be seen in the distance from a whale swimming by. We saw a little of its back as it dived but no tail. Still, finally, whale action has been spotted. Lucy and I can now finally rest from calling out “here Whaley Whaley Whaley” relentlessly. We knew it would work in the end, it just took 8 weeks or so.

“Only acceptable on the boat”

Living on a 70ft racing yacht for long periods of time means that you have to adapt your lifestyle somewhat. As the angles, temperatures and sleep patterns constantly change, standards slip and before you know it, we find ourselves doing something that is perfectly acceptable on the boat but that we’d consider ridiculous or bizarre on land. What is quite amusing is how many of these become unacceptable as soon as you step on land, but also how some of them don’t. So here we go, things that are only acceptable on the boat. Warning: it’s a tad grim…

  1. Running out into the street in your underwear with shower gel in hand whenever it starts raining
  2. Mopping the sweat from your chest with a tea towel during lunch
  3. Climbing over people in an up close and personal manner when manoeuvring around the boat
  4. Preening/grooming yourself in public, including open air waxing & shaving
  5. Getting undressed for dinner 
  6. Pooing behind a curtain (!)
  7. Announcing your presence whenever you arrive somewhere after dark 
  8. The prolific application of wet wipes being considered a “shower”
  9. Horror at the thought of brushing your hair inside rather than outside
  10. Holding out until 4.30am for breakfast
  11. Putting on the same clothes every day for up to 2 weeks
  12. So looking forward to putting clean underwear on that you tell everyone before you do so AND then once you’ve done so. This is world news people! 
  13. Wandering around in your sports bra most of the time
  14. Bursting into song or dance at any given moment
  15. Sharing a bed someone but never at the same time 
  16. Brushing your teeth once every 24hours is considered frequent
  17. If someone tells you to grind, you jump up and wave your arms around in a circular motion rather than errr..grinding
  18. Pumping the toilet a minimum of 70 times just to wash away the…
  19. Purposefully waking people up from sleep at 2am
  20. Participating in a stampede at the prospect of being able to charge a USB pack
  21. A fan being a suitable thing to cuddle to send you to sleep
  22. Febreezing and hanging out a sheet to air for an hour constitutes as “washing”
  23. Taking up and replacing your floorboards every 6 hours or so
  24. Emptying water from your basement, every 6 hours or so
  25. Cleaning the loos and anti-backing surfaces 5x a day is not considered to be OCD
  26. Recording where you are on the hour, every hour in a special book
  27. Biscuits being an appropriate wake-up snack…nom nom nom…
  28. Putting your toilet paper in its own special bag rather than down the loo
  29. An improvement in your bowel movements being news that must be announced to the rest of the crew
  30. Getting overexcited about ANYTHING cold or hot depending on the Leg
  31. A 14 hour sleep being seen as a deserved reward for having stayed awake for a 10 hours in a row
  32. Bracing yourself against a wall being necessary to go to the loo
  33. Walking on walls. Try that at home!
  34. Falling asleep in public as soon as you go outside or when you’re supposed to being something (oooops)
So I cant even remember doing this! Oh dear…

Leg 7, Week 6 and a bit: Trimming with Colin

It would seem I’ve  a bit slow putting these up – oooops! May 2016

The brief nature of our Panama stopover means that we’ve all been counting down to New York since this race began. Again and again, conversation turns to what we’ll do there, what we’ll eat, how we will prioritise a duvet day. Despite 44 hours on land in Panama, it still feels like we’ve come straight through from Seattle having suffered all of the adjustment drawbacks from a stopover with none of the refreshment.

As of the beginning of this week though, somehow we’re with the front pack of boats. Miracle! For once, we have boats all around us and visible on our navigation system to compare against. To make sure we stay in the front pack, the focus is now on adjusting the sails constantly (“trimming”) for maximum speed, quite a change from the previous race where sails could be put up and left for days. Now, there are always a couple of us stationed on the grinder, ready to grind like hell whenever required to adjust the code 1 Spinnaker when we’re flying it. Whilst the trimming seems to be paying off for boat speed, the previous harmony of our watch has been disrupted, terse words being exchanged as sail changes and adjustments are debated by the experienced sailors on board. I’m just happy to do what I’m told being still consciously incompetent at this sailing malarkey. 

Over the previous week, we raced up past Jamaica and are now just north of Cuba, the Caribbean Sea darling. Notes from home muse about how beautiful it must be sailing through the Caribbean islands. Have we seen any islands though? Have we hell. It’s like the coast of Mexico all over again, just blue, blue, blue with the occasional bump in the distance pretending to be land. To be fair, we have seen genuine land a couple of times by the end of the week, but it’s mere bumps on the horizon or more often than not, giant ships masquerading as land. The Caribbean Sea is different to the Pacific though. At night, there is more glittering phosphorescence in the wake of the boat. In daylight, there is less wildlife but more seaweed (and boats) bobbing about everywhere. The amount of seaweed proved to be a bit of a problem one day as a large chunk of it accumulated on our keel, slowing us down. Apparently it was nothing that a 360 turn couldn’t rectify and The nights are a little is was true. Round and round in circles…


Slowly, it’s getting a touch cooler too as we progress north, the sweat a little less intense as we lie in our bunks particularly at night. I’ve even cracked out the silk sleeping bag liner on occasion, I’d forgotten what it was. Having said that, I’m now at the point where my bunk it truly disgusting as the nature of sharing means it never really has time to air and dry from the sweat bath it continues to get. I’m hoping to get it up on deck and dry it our during mother watch which will now be with my bunk buddy Jon “The Koala”. The sheets we have on the mattress are a lost cause though, only boiling the life out of them may return them to a state of cleanliness. Thought you would appreciate these grim details!

This week, we’ve finally had stars again like we did during the first week out of Seattle. You’d think that this would be a more common occurrence, but a combination of the moon waxing and waning plus nightly storms meant stars were a rarity on the approach to Panama. They are back out in all of their glory, as have been our vocal chords this week trying to stay away during the night watches. More than once, 4 of us have been singing a diverse array of songs to help the time go by, from hymns to hip hop. What all of the songs are united by is our lack of knowledge around the words, everyone having perhaps a chorus sung before we move onto the next one in search of lyrics we know.

It’s 14.13 boat time on Saturday 4th June and we’ve just crossed the scoring gate line for this race in (fingers crossed!) FIRST PLACE! We’re about 70 miles ahead of most of the other boats, the only boat potentially threatening our position being Garmin who are currently in stealth mode. Sneaky Garmin. This is the first time Visit Seattle has ever crossed a scoring gate line with the potential of scoring and combined with the ocean sprint points we won could make this our most successful leg ever. Woohoo! As we crossed the finish line, I was in the nav station making sure the position and timing was recorded for posterity and then Boom, out with the celebratory tunes on deck. It’s now just 950 miles to New York albeit with some fruitier weather on the way in the form of Tropical Storm Colin (what a brilliant name for a storm!). Time to get back on the Stugeron I think. Gulp.

It was later revealed that sneaky Garmin in had been sneaky and passed the Scoring Gate around 15 miles ahead of us. We’re not ones to complain though – second place = 2 extra points which will make a difference at our end of the leaderboard. Woohoo!

The combination of Colin plus rough weather meant that for the remainder of this race, all energy was focused on keeping the good ship Visit Seattle sailing as fast as possible rather than blogging, taking photos or anything else. That’s why the details will now appears little sparse…

https://youtu.be/Nkt6NHZ5AVU

Tropical Storm Colin (seriously, “Colin?!”) was quite brilliant as a taster storm. At no other point during the leg had we had really rough weather, so in many ways, it was good to experience one in preparation for the Atlantic. The storm hit good and proper whilst I was off watch but matured as we were on deck. What seemed huge to me (nothing compared to Leg 6 Pacific of course) waves rolled across, water spraying off the tops of them. Everything was grey, grey and awesome. What I’ll never forget it how our 35-tonne boat surfed down waves during this storm: we’d have 2 planes of water on either side of the boat of azure blue water as we made the most of each wave. at one point whilst crawling up to the bow, my foot was on the edge of the boat when one of these plumes sprang up, I was convinced this was going to end very, very soggily for me but instead it was a blue wall rising up that never came onto the deck. Very cool. As Colin was a taster storm, he only ended up lasting about 8 hours but we had rough sea states for a good day afterwards as residue.
It was then the final 2/3 days of the race, spent with a sense of nervous apprehension on the boat. We knew we were in 3rd and that we had GB, Lmax and Derry behind, all of which have reputations of going fast and being on the podium. GB was the key threat, first 20 miles behind, then just 15 for the final 2 days, now 15 miles is not much of a gap – could we hold onto our position and stay ahead? Bob kept us positive with brief motivational speaches during happy hour (and peanut butter crackers). Amancio, our navigator as well as victualler, was constantly asked “how are we doing?” By everyone he passed. He should have had his answer recorded so he could just press play. We were all curious as It was now crucial that we did everything we could to maintain our lead, a key tactic being to ensure at helms steered as straight a course as possible to get us to the finish as quickly as possible. Now, I’ve had a couple of occasions where I have done some cracking s-bends whilst steering so I was very conscious that I may not be the best person to be steering. This did really get to me once where after 15 minutes of trying and failing to hold a straight course, I had to call it quits: the pressure was a bit too much at this stage of the race

Finally, at some random point in the ocean, we crossed an imaginary finish line to claim our first ever podium in the entire race. Around 5 miles before hand (so about half an hour) I was woken with the rest of the off-watch for the occasion. Everyone was on deck cheering as we counted down to the final point, a very small cup of prosecco given to each person in celebration. We couldn’t quite believe it: we’d actually claimed 3rd place and we’d done it super speedily. It had taken us just 10 days in the end to complete a course that should have taken at least 2 weeks. To New York!