Thursday, 20 May 2010


So, i'm not really sure where to start this blog after the North Pacific, its left me a little speechless!

Well we ended up having a really great, longer then expected stop over in San Francisco as we were waiting for Team Finland to catch up with us. They had been diverted via Japan at the start of Leg 5 to fix their watermaker problem, and had sailed solo across the pacific a few weeks behind the rest of the fleet. A respectable achievement if you read my previous blog!

Anyway, when all nine boats assembled it was ready to head back out into the what was now regarded as the most fearsome of oceans, and the cloudy mood over Alcatraz Island set the mood perfectly. Sure enough, within 6 hours of leaving, when and shadow of the land was clearly well behind us, it was almost as though we'd never left. Waves threw the boat about violently and the wind reared its ugly head, but this time, it was a different mood on board. We knew whatever we would get thrown at us we could get through.

The usual pattern of getting into life on the boat quickly didn't quite materialise this leg for me. I think I had just had such a great stopover in San Francisco that the boat almost felt a little foreign. The conditions fortunately turned out to be no where near as bad as Leg 5, in fact it just turned out to be some really great quick sailing conditions. I hit the boats highest speed of the whole 8 months so far when I got up to just shy of 24 knots. Its hard to describe exactly what thats like but the video below might give you a little hint. This is me hitting about 19 knots so imagine faster than this again sustained over a couple of days - just brilliant fun!

We all knew secretly at the back of our minds though that it wouldn't last, a shame but some sunshine sailing was long overdue. Now a week in, we were heading down past Baja California with the chance of spotting some great wildlife, the sunshine soaring to the point of being unbearable and shorts and t-shirts out for the first time in literally months. It felt like a different trip and mood on-board soared.

In terms of the race we were doing well, holding a steady position at the top of the fleet, the usual 'sched fever' revealing whether we had lost or gained miles on the other boats. Each day that past it would become more and more tactical. A windhole could see you slip from a podium place to near the back of the fleet and vice versa. We became permanently accustomed to the 'low side' of the boat (aids in gaining boat speed in super light conditions) and were told to tiptoe around deck when we moved around.

Whilst it may sound ridiculous, the work in keeping the boat moving by the tiniest fraction paid off big time!!! Having continued for several days in the glorious sunshine the weather was getting so light it was going to impact our arrival date at the Panama Canal. The race we found out would be shortened by several hundred miles, meaning that we would have to fight to really keep our place on the podium for the last 72 hours.

At this point, we could see Finland off to our starboard side, and knew that Qingdao were not far away. The distance to finish given to us by Clippers was now innacurate though - that was to a specific point on the finish line, which was closer to Qingdao than it was to us. Obviously we could cross anywhere over the finish line and so hoisted the kite and made the most direct course we could. In the most dramatic finish of the race for us so far (literally we didn't know for hours afterwards whether we had managed to beat them or not), we eventually found out that after 2500 miles of ocean racing we had beaten Qingdao by a mere 12 minutes!!!!!!!!!!! Team finland were then only 8 minuted behind them!!

It was a really great race, another podium, and one which was especially valuable to us in securing our second position overall in the race. It was a semi-bitter pill to swallow losing out to Australia - the ribbing I got from my dad was of course no holds barred, but I was really pleased for them to get a great result (for those that don't know my dad is racing on board Spirit of Australia on Legs 6 & 7!!!).

Anyway, from there we motored down to the Panama Canal, which I had been looking forward too since Hull! It was a truly memorable experience crossing through, especially considering the locks were built nearly 100 years ago - an immense feat of engineering! It was also quite emotional for those of us that had done Leg 5 - we were closing the doors on the Pacific ocean when that first lock closed behind us, and opening up the doors to the Atlantic - homeward bound!!!!!!!!!!!! The photos do it more justice than I could describe so I'll let you enjoy.

Leaving Panama though was something we were all pleased to do. I've never been anywhere to humid and hot in my life and so staying on the boat was exceptionally uncomfortable. It was due to be a solid 3/4 days beating into the wind on the way up to our home port of Jamaica, although most of us didn't care by this point as the water was as warm as a bath! There were few tactics to decide upon as the trade winds were very steady all the way up to the Caribbean Islands. It was literally a case of get as good a start as possible and keep pushing. It was unfortunate that into our home port we could only manage a 5th place considering the run of podium places we'd had in the last few races.

It was a close finish with Singapore in the end as we managed to completely mess up a routine spinnaker gybe only about a mile from the finish with them gaining quickly. It was the quickest spinnaker drop and hoist any of us have done in the whole 8 months to make sure we didn't lose out on 5th.

Th reception into Jamaica was fantastic as expected and we have been treated like royalty since arriving. I miss my girlfriend, friends and family incredibly but I have to say it - "Its a hard life this sailing round the world lark......."

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Welcome to Hell...

We have eventually arrived in San Francisco after a brutal leg of the race. I feel completed wasted. For this blog, rather than focus on the whole of Leg 5 I am going to recount events from a 72hr period when we were circa 3500 miles into our crossing and maybe this will give you an insight into why we’re all pretty pleased to be on dry land for a while.

Welcome to hell…

It had rained for nearly a week non-stop. Every watch we headed out into the lashing rain. My clothes, supposedly the best gore-tex waterproofs were soaked through and the wind from the Arctic was freezing. The wind was however dropping off rapidly and the mood was becoming more and more sombre as our boat speed dropped as did chances of an early arrival. At midnight I went off watch, cold wet and tired and wrote a few emails expressing my dislike for the Pacific, particularly bemoaning the lack of wind.

20 minutes later I was enjoying one of the now very few comforts on board, my warm sleeping bag, where I would try desperately to get about 2 and half hours sleep before heading back out into the cold. Or so I thought.

Matt came through to the crew area and I was woken up saying the opposite watch needed a hand on deck. I didn’t really understand what was happening at first as the weather did not sound horrific from below deck. The predicted gradual build up of wind though did not happen. We went from about 6 knots of breeze to 50 knots in the space of about 15 minutes. It was soon gusting as high as 65 knots (peaking at 72). Bearing in mind that on the Beaufort scale a ‘Hurricane’ starts at 64 knots of wind, this was a very serious low pressure hitting us.

Spray and rain were no-longer discernible and neither was the direction in which it was coming from. Bitterly cold foam and white spray began filling the air as we wrestled with the mainsail and headsails. This became a near impossible task as the wind created a monstrous sea state. Huge huge waves and a very confused sea state rocked the boat dangerously. As a crew we had developed really good communication skills when we go through sail evolutions. It was completely useless though now as it was so loud that people could not be heard shouting at the top of their voices only 6 feet away. As the bitterly bitterly cold booming wind set in and we finally managed to get the sail plan down I eventually headed back to my bunk. As I left deck I saw we were still doing six knots even with no sails up! It would only be an hour or so before I kitted back up and headed back out for my on-watch…

A few hours later, and in the light of day, I’d never seen anything like it. It was the most ferocious display of nature I’ve ever seen (the wind was still peaking at 60 knots). There was just so much water everywhere, waves were sweeping people down the deck of the boat. It was not overly surprising when we got the awful news that the skipper of Hull and Humber had broken his leg after being swept onto one of the stanchion posts. Spirit of Australia were sent to their aid and accompanied them to a rendezvous with the Japanese coast guard.

We had a couple of near knock-downs on board Jamaica, one or two when I was helming which was scary as it allowed you to really feel how powerful the waves were. We had almost a foot of water INSIDE the boat at one point due to a wave crashing through the companion way hatch.

Amid all the happenings, news then came through that California’s EPIRB had gone off – an emergency location device. They were not responding to any radio or satellite calls so we were told by the race committee that we would have to go to their last reported position to investigate. We eventually caught up with them to find a pretty grim situation. 2000 miles form the nearest land they had been rolled a full 130 degrees. The mast was broken into 3 pieces. There was a serious medical emergency. They had no communications equipment and no navigation equipment and the weather was not letting up.

The Coast Guard plane was then called from Midway (US owned island) to assist in the situation. Eventually through liaising with us they located California and managed to drop a handheld VHF radio to them, which would allow them to speak with the boat and coordinate the medical evacuation and provide any other assistance they could. The patient on board California finally stopped bleeding from his head wound after 15hrs but a medical evacuation was still required.

Also in the area fortunately was a huge merchant vessel, the Nord Nightingale. They had been called to assist as well (many hours ago in fact) and so were now approaching fast. When they arrived at the scene it was late afternoon and it was decided that they had to get the patient off quickly, as the transfer would be impossible in the dark. The rough sea state though made for a very risky boat-to-boat transfer and it was only due to the skill and patience of the crew from both California and the Nord-Nightingale that he was successfully transferred to the tanker just before darkness really descended.

It was hard to believe that whilst all this was happening we also heard news that Singapore had been knocked down severely. They had had 3 people washed overboard although all were attached to lifelines and so were safely brought back on board. They did however suffer structural damage to the boat - the steering wheel was buckled and the helming frame ripped off. The companion way roof was also ripped off which meant they were taking on a lot water each time they were hit by a wave. They were also called to come to our position but they would have repairs to do of their own first before they arrived on the scene.

24 hours later the wind finally began to calm as did the sea state and so we were able to do a fuel transfer to California. We could only afford to transfer them about two days fuel since we had had a diesel leak of our own on board Jamaica. The other boats which were catching up with us (Singapore was now only a matter of hours away) would also be doing fuel transfers which would allow California to motor most of the way to America.

By this stage of the race, Edinburgh had a badly damaged spreader (meaning that their mast was also dangerously close to collapsing as well). Team Finland had also been diverted back to Japan because of a water maker problem and so the whole fleet just seemed to be taking a hammering from the Pacific.

For me personally, I had had no sleep for nearly 3 days. I had been sea sick, badly at times. I was completely exhausted.
It would now only be a brief respite though as the next low pressure was on its way. This time the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) had officially classified it as a Hurricane.

Pack your bags guys, we’re heading back to Hell.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Heading Upwind!!

After a fantastic stop over in Australia, we were yet again accompanied by strong winds leaving Geraldton heading North. This race was due to be the most tactical race so far up to Singapore. We would face numerous islands, reefs, fishing fleets, oil rigs galore, threats of piracy, squalls and numerous random objects (usually fishing pots of some description) that we’re not lit up that scattered the surface of the sea.

The weather was warm to start with but soon soared to unbearable temperature down below deck, easily hotter than crossing the equator in leg 1. We were slipping into our usual routine quicker and quicker each time we started races now and it wasn’t long until we had 1000 miles under our belts. As we made our approach to the Sunda straight we unfortunately missed out on some gate points after making a solo move far out west after the rest of the fleet headed east. The tables were soon turned when we managed to go from tenth to first so the move definitely paid off, only for us to sail into our own wind hole. Our fortunes were certainly mixed.

Soon after entering the straight we had managed to consolidate a third place with Cape Breton and Australia ahead of us but not by much. Cork were following in fourth with the rest of the fleet following in hot pursuit By this stage the weather was beginning to be particularly squally, and they were far more severe than during Leg 1. The rain was lashing and relentless, the winds gale force and it was a case of doing what you could to reduce the sail plan in as quick a time as possible. We had a knock down of our own (when the mast is nearly in the water) when we didn’t manage to do this in time. I was helming at the time and it certainly eclipsed our Leg 3 broach as the most out-of-control moment.

Within an hour the impact of the conditions was made evident on the fleet. A Pan-pan message then came in from one of the Clipper fleet although it was not clear at the time who it was from. We soon found out that Cork behind us hat hit a reef and were abandoning to life rafts. We were all totally shocked and with not much information minds began to race. We were nearly called back by the race committee to go and assist but this would only have put more boats in jeopardy and the boats behind Cork would be there sooner, so ourselves, Cape Breton and Australia carried on racing. There was soon a press release through saying that everyone was safe but unfortunately they were having to abandon the boat on the reef. It was incredibly sad news that there would only be 9 clipper boats left in the world. When Finland and California left the rescue scene no doubt local fishermen will have looted the boat for absolutely everything. The outcome of an investigation into the situation has yet to be released but as soon as it is I’ll blog about it as its no doubt one of the major incidents in the history of Clipper.

Racing continued although it was not clear because we were beginning to beat to windward who was on the winning and losing tack. As we made our final approaches it became clear we would have to settle for third. Unfortunately we lost out by a discouraging margin in the end to the other two, with Cape Breton finishing about a mile ahead of Australia with us around 30 miles behind. All in all it was a very incident full race but my favourite so far. Everyone is just glad that everyone on Cork is safe.

After a lengthy stop over in Batam/Singapore where fortunately I managed to fit in a great flying visit back to Melbourne we then set out on the ‘infamous’ upwind part of the whole race. To begin with the weather out of Singapore was superb and the fleet made excellent progress towards China, with Jamaica leading the way for most of the start. The first week passed in a blur before the action came to a head as we approached the gate. We had been in the top two for the whole first week but a wind whole and a slight detour east meant we were now in 7th with about 200 miles to go. It looked like we were going to miss out altogether. Obviously Pete our skipper had other ideas though as we soared back up through the fleet just in time to take the full 3 gate points! These were our first gate points of the race and we were overjoyed – it would mean closing the gap in the overall race to Finland and extending our lead over Hull and Humber and Cape Breton.

From here though the race changed dramatically. Off the coast of Taiwan a strong 30 knot plus wind starts to blow with a very strong current flowing in the opposite way. This makes for a truly horrible sea state where the boat would crash off the back of waves. Below decks it sounded like a grenade was going off as the hull slammed back down. The weather only got colder and colder as we headed further north and as bow man it was beginning to get very very wet and cold on the foredeck. We woke up to most watches with ice and frost on the deck, and so sail changes in these conditions were horrific and seemed to take about 5 times longer than usual as everyone was so cold.

It was not just onboard Jamaica that we were suffering though, the whole fleet were feeling the effects. Indeed we seemed to be coping with them better then most as we were lying in second place with only Australia a short way in front.

It was then that we were hit with another huge piece of ‘race news’. Team Finland had been dismasted! It was a disaster for them and the fleet, but again importantly everyone was safe. They were making passage for Taiwan to assess the damage and would motor from there to the finish in China. It only served to add further incident to the notorious Leg 4!

We didn’t quite make it in to China for my birthday which was a shame – I actually spent that in my bunk feeling terrible, so not the best day. We did arrive shortly after though into Qingdao, host of the 2008 Olympics. The marina was incredible and the reception we received was overwhelming. Broadcast live on national television we were mobbed by hundreds of journalists and a huge crowd of people. Having spent so long in such harsh conditions it was all a bit surreal but no doubt an experience I will remember for a long time to come.

Soon after the ceremony was over I just felt like collapsing. I didn’t realise how exhausted I was. It was time for a well earned rest, to enjoy the best that China has to offer and to catch up with my very patient girlfriend.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

The calm and gentle 40's!!!

So, Leg 3 of the race is done and I can't believe its going so quickly! We've now sailed all the way from Hull in the UK over to Geraldton in Australia, covering circa 14,500 miles in the process! This leg of the race though didn't quite live up to the expectation!!

When I originally signed up for the Clippers race it was only to this leg, across the infamous Southern Ocean. The reason I signed up is because of all the oceans the race crosses this one had the potential to be very very quick downwind sailing with some big seas and big waves! However, despite diving well into the Roaring Forties, going down as low as nearly 44 degrees South, the strongest winds we saw were sailing on the final day directly into Geraldton!!!

So, 4,400 miles away and nearly 4 weeks before in Cape Town we had the most interesting start and hardest 24hrs of sailing we've done so far. With the count down to the start in full swing the wind was easily hitting 30 knots, calling for reefs in the main and the smaller headsails. Whilst all this activity was going on we had to think about getting our start-line approach right. Whilst on the foredeck I heard what I thought was the cannon firing from Cape Town yacht club to signify the 10 minute start gun. It was only when I looked up I realised that Cork had collided full on into the side of Hull and Humber right on the way up to the start line!!!! Fortunately no one was hurt but both boats were seriously damaged and headed straight back into Cape Town. Cork cracked the front of the hull open, right down the bow, but Hull and Humbers damage was far worse, requiring some serious work to repair a huge hole in the side of their hull. It was worrying to think this could be anyone of us as we're all so close sometimes at the start line. Our thoughts soon turned to racing though and the remaining 8 of us were off to Australia...

Only an hour later we were caught entirely in the wind shadow of table mountain and were doing exactly zero knots with the windseeker sail up. In only another hours time we were back to 30 knots of wind as we came out from behind the mountain. In the dead of night it was a shock to all of us and the hardest watch i've done. Changing sails in a pair of shorts getting hammered by waves over the bow was fun - in retrospect!!!

So it was not long before we were all back into the swing of things on the boat - we're all getting used to it quicker and quicker after each stop over which is good. Again there wasn't much option with this leg for tactical options, so most of the boats were closely placed for the first week, only after that did we begin to spread out a little. We were consistently in the top half of the pack which was good but most of the crew, myself included were a little disappointed that being well away from the coast of Africa now and making a significant dive south, that we weren't experiencing some tougher conditions. Personally I was of the opinion that you never wish for horrific weather but if ever we were going to get some we were all ready and in the right frame of mind to deal with it.

An added bonus on this leg was having the camera man on board from North One TV studios. We had cameras set up all over the boat and were regularly giving interviews about our experiences so far which was really good, and exciting as well to think that the end programme will be going out to over 60 countries around the world.

And so it was that the supposed 'roaring' forties lulled us right into a false sense of security. We had been sailing consistently under spinnaker for almost 24 hours, just north of the Kergulen islands when I was coming out on watch for my six hour day shift. Pete our skipper fortunately was helming at the time the wind went from around 10 to nearly 35 knots. The spinnaker was way too much and we would have to act super quickly to get out of this situation safely. Before we'd even moved though the boat broached, lying sideways in the water with most of the boom in the water and the end of the mast only a few feet off the surface. The wind was howling, the sails were flogging themselves to the point of ripping, especially the spinnaker and everyone was hanging on to whatever they could wondering if Jamaica would flip back up. Fortunately she levelled out but only for a minute before Pete shouted 'All hands on deck' as we broached for a second and third time.

Its scary when the boat broaches - i've read about this so many times in all kinds of books and magazines but when its actually happening it makes you realise how powerful the boats are in too much wind! In the midst of a near deafening sound from the sails and everyone trying to shout above the noise the spinnaker pole was released forwards. A huge 20 foot metal pole snapped like a match stick against the inner forestay. The halyards for the spinnaker were then cut in an attempt to get the sail down as quickly as possibly, but it was too late. The sail was ripped nearly clean in two with the space of about 5 minutes as we tried desperately to get it back on board - not an easy task when the majority of it is now 50 feet behind the boat, in the water and the boat is heeled right over and still travelling at 10 knots!!!

Anyway, eventually we got the sail back on board, lowered our shattered spinnaker pole and cleared away all the snapped and cut lines. It was our most 'out of control' moment so far on the race and not one any of us would wish to repeat, especially considering we will most likely lose a hard earned point in the overall race for the damage.

Following a de-brief from Pete and a bit of a re-group we focused on trying to regain some positions as we were not approaching the last 1500 miles and lying in 7th place. The wind was fairly consistent and for the first time in almost a week it was in the perfect direction that we could steer a course almost directly to Geraldton. Whilst we were all excited about sailing quickly towards Australia (most of us onboard were very keen to get there by now!) it was not lost on us that all of the other boats were experiencing similar weather, and so our position wasn't changing. Our only hope lay in a huge high pressure system that was building up between us and the coast of Australia. With around 750 miles to go the boats in front of us, slowly but surely, one by one, ground to an absolutely halt. This would allow all 8 of us a second bite at the cherry and would bunch us right up for an exciting finish into Geraldton.

Not surprisingly several of the boats played their stealth cards. Whilst in 4th place on a good run, we were very confident that we were coming close to overtaking Cape Breton Island, only to find that on getting the next position report in, they had entered their 24hr period of stealth. Having come back from 7th place we were desperate to get a podium place and so the mood on board was so anxious at this time. Unfortunately Team Finland and Spirit of Australia were too far ahead at this time for us to seriously challenge them, but we would do all that we could to get the remaining podium spot.

And so as we entered our last day of sailing Cape Breton popped out of Stealth only 2 miles behind us!!! It was great to be in third but we would have to sail well and sail hard to keep our lead. In the end, as we arrived into Geraldton, with nearly 40 knots of wind, and after 4400 miles of sailing, the top 8 boats were separated by only 6 hours. Fortunately we hald on to our third place which we had worked so hard for!!! It was a truly nail biting finish and it was a shame that Cork and Hull and Humber could not have been part of it. I suppose though it is a benefit for us in the overall standings, although Hull and Humber at least are likely to be given a points redress and so may move up the field.

And so, after and eventful, but somewhat unfulfilling Southern Ocean leg on the whole, we're all relaxing now, enjoying time in Australia for Christmas and New Year. Its nice to be away from the boats for a while, especially as I am seeing family and my girlfriend this stop over for the first time since the race start.

A full set of photos will be uploaded before I leave Geraldton, including those from leg 2!!!

Happy Christmas and New year to all!!!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Atlantic finally rears its ugly head...


So having had a great stopover in Rio, a somewhat luxurious one it might be said after conditions on the boat, we found ourselves reconvening again to do final boat prep and get ourselves ready for what would undoubtedly be a harder race, with faster downwind sailing and bigger seas. We were joined by our new crew members, Mark Davies, Marc Scrimshire and Michelle Henderson replacing Greg Bond, Tom Reddaway and Ed Carley. Sad to be saying goodbye to those guys after a great first leg but it was important for all that we make sure the new crew were as welcome as possible so it was great to have a beers together on the last night before leaving.

Soon enough though the time had come to slip lines and say farewell to Brazil. We motored out underneath the fabulous Christ Redeemer and Sugarloaf mountains for a short course race round the cans before pointing Jamaica towards Cape Town, trimming sails and sailing as quickly as we could. We had a great start, out-foxing some boats that took a course further inland and got stuck in light airs from shadow of the coastline.

With only California and Edinburgh ahead of us we were confident it was a leg where we could really excel again and hopefully go one or two places better than last leg. Although the leg was not set to offer as many options tactically to the fleet there was soon a split of boats with
ourselves, Edinburgh and California making a more Northerly course, another 5 heading further South, with Cape Breton Island between the two groups. It was an early decision that was
to pay off as within 48 hours, despite being in the same wind system as Edinburgh and California, we were taking consistent miles out of them and leaving the southerly group even further behind. It was the first time in the whole race where we have been in first place for a consistent period and we were well places to pick up a full 3 points at the North-South gate 700 miles away.

It was a constant source of discussion on board as to how far south we should sail to be well placed between the South Atlantic High and low pressure systems that circle above Antarctica. Alas, one period of 24 hours, where we got that balance slightly wrong was to be our undoing; becalmed, 4 of the boats further south overtook us and we were left settled into the middle of the fleet as we got further and further offshore. It was a real wake up call as we had gone from a great start to a position now where we would potentially not pick up any gate points!!

Sure enough our route did begin to take us further and further south east and as expected, conditions soon deteriorated and we began a period of very strong winds, peaking at nearly 50 knots. Unfortunately this was not a happy time on board Jamaica as a stomach bug was going round the crew, and before long it was my turn to be ill - not pleasant when the heads are crashing round heeled over at 30 degrees! Whoever said this ocean racing was glamorous!

So I was disappointed to miss 72 hours of the last leg with a combination of sea sickness and a stomach bug. It was during this period that Hull & Humber, Singapore and Cork crossed over the scoring gate ahead of us, and so morale on board was not the best!

As mentioned there were to be few, if any, tactical decisions this leg, so gaining places would come down to a combination of good sail trim and accurate helming and we were more determined than ever for a strong finish into Cape Town after the disappointment of the gate. So with new found determination I slipped back into my watch system and role as one of the key helms and it was absolutely amazing to be sailing Jamaica along at speeds of over 20 knots! The only way I can describe it is like water exploding all over the boat. Needless to say
everyones foul weather gear was getting a true test of what the ocean can conjure up.

No sooner had a really got back into my watch system than I was back down below doing motherwatch duties!!! Not something I looked forward to in Force 8 winds and the boat crashing all over the place. Within 5 mins there was coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cuppa soup all over the floor as we bashed right through a wave and the trend was set for the next 24 hours! With pans, plates, the kettle, endless pieces of cutlery, food
, sauces, drinks, absolutely anything thats not fixed down flying all over the place it was a great relief to have a good nights sleep. Mark and I headed off to our bunks just trying not to think about having to repeat the whole performance again for breakfast.

The one benefit I had of being on Motherwatch is that when I did have a break I could catch up on the navigation side of the race and find out where we had got to in the last day or two. It was great to know that just as I was serving my last cup of tea, aqua-vaccing my last bilge and heading out on deck that we were about to break the 1000 mile barrier.

We had 1 more day of lighter winds before the next Low pressure system caught up with us and we were off again surfing up around the 20 knot mark. Its amazing how quickly the miles get eaten up at these sort of speeds and before long we were only 3 days from Cape Town, having nearly crossed the Atlantic for a second time!!! Each of us were daring to dream just a little of the creature comforts that awaited us. It had been a rough leg, with one of the other boats having a man overboard to serve as a constant reminder and we were all looking forward to a break.

But there was still sailing to do and we were driven into a final push as we closed on Hull and Humber and overtook into 4th place approaching South Africa. Similar to the first leg it was weird to be able to see another Clipper boat having sailed thousands of miles from the last stop, and when we could see Hull and Humber behind us we should have done more to cover them and get ourselves into a match racing mode for the finish. Ultimately not flying our lightweight spinnaker during the final night meant we crossed the finish line only 55 minutes behind them, in a solid 5th place.

It was great to arrive on dry land after what was a very different leg to the first. There was a different dynamic on board as I was with a different watch and so it was interesting to be sailing with new crew on board. There was rough weather, fast down wind sailing, breakages and illness so it really feels like we've earned our stopover in Cape Town. Over the next 72 hours the remaining Clippers arrived, California doing so in a phenominal 67 knots of wind under emergency steering. We were to learn that despite not finishing on the podium that we were one of the only boats to arrive with virtually no damage. Several of the other boats had destroyed sails, lost wind instruments, lost steering capability and crash gybed several times. The Jamaican strategy of looking after the boat to make sure it gets us all the way round the world had paid off.

Leg 3 over to Australia is set to be more of the same, if not an even more extreme version as we head down to the roaring forties, and I can't wait!

Hopefully there'll be some more photos and videos to follow.