Friday 5th August

A slight easing of the winds this morning offered a brief respite during which the sun decided to make a short-lived appearance – along with several more of our very playful dolphin friends. Most of the crew are now over their sea sickness but poor old Roberto struggles on, having not managed to keep food, water or sea-sick pills down for 2 days now. His routine is to move from bunk to saloon to sleep more and then to the heads when necessary. He’s trying to stay cheerful but is clearly frustrated that despite the various remedies he’s tried, nothing seems to be working. I try and reassure him that it WILL pass very soon but I can tell he’s not convinced.
The race is on today to round the headland of Spain, wave goodbye to the Bay of Biscay and make it around Finisterre and the long run into Madeira.  Everyone is hopeful that once running down the Portuguese coast, the conditions will improve, the wind will veer and finally we will have the warm, sunny downwind sailing that everyone was expecting.  The morning race schedule shows New York back in first place but we know that not to be the case as we can see Finland about a mile ahead of us on the horizon.  The race is on to be first to tack around the corner and while battling with Finland, Gold Coast Australia are spotted to our stern, heeling at an angle that says “we’re coming to get you”.

Finland stay in-shore and we tack further out in attempt to round the corner in one but life is sometimes cruel and a wind shift favours not only the Finnish team but also Gold Coast, who spot the shift and see that they can trump us all and make the corner with just one tack.  NY are already committed and can do no more than push and on make the best of it.

By early evening the winds are gusting back up to mid 20’s and pushing 30 knots so New York drop their headsail (which I film while once again trying to hold on for grim death!) and instantly pick up an extra knot of speed.  Living proof that indeed sometimes less is more.  Andrew who has been on motherwatch checks out the weather forecast before he turns in for the night. The promise has always been a wind shift and some downwind sailing but the forecast suggest that it could be a long, slow into the wind all the way to Madeira.  It’s not the news he wanted to hear! To add to the grey mood Rich, the skipper of Gold Coast, calls up on the VHF radio. He’s just overtaken NY and calls up Gareth to say he hopes that he’s just written in the log that NY have “been overtaken by a bunch of Bad Ass Aussies”!
The wind builds and builds again and it’s another bumpy night which offers little sleep to the off watch (and me) while the on-watch play a game of dodge the tankers that are entering and leaving the nearby Traffic Separation Scheme.  Another reef goes in the main and the watch change-overs are sombre as the drenched crew try and get out of their sopping foulies and into their bunks as quickly as possible.