Leg 4 – Race 5 3rd Jan 2010 – Race Start Day

(editorial note: as this is posted, the blogs have skipped from Christmas Day straight to here. The missing days may get patched in later).

We were all up bright and early in our apartment – despite staying out later than we should have done and then also having had a very difficult conversation with Charles last night. It was blatantly obvious he was still in a lot of pain and extremely uncomfortable with basic sleeping and moving around.  We were all concerned at his insistence that he was fine to sail this race and had had to give him some tough love.  He appeared up and in team kit like the rest of us and while he had all the appearances of setting off with us I could tell that he had already decided that it wasn't sensible or even really possible in his own mind. We all dashed for final showers, eating final bits of breakfast, final packing of final things and a dash to reception to go through the arduous process of settling the account while waiting for the cab.
At 7am it's already scorching hot and carrying bags to walk the 50 meters from the cab to boat seems a struggle! I push exit cards into everyone’s hands as we have an appointment with the customs team in half an hour and have to be ready for our slot!

More bits of food stowage are done and kit gets roughly shoved into bunk areas with the promise it'll be sorted later – which we all know is unlikely to happen! After the luxury of being able to spread out and see your clothes, and wash bag etc it's always hard to get back into ferreting around in dry bags with little visibility to find clean clothes.  That's possibly another reason for not changing very often when at sea!!

We get an hour to go and have a final coffee and last minute buy of any essentials. Charles has spoken to Piers and his decision not to come with us is public. I'm sad but relieved for him.  He can barely do the short walk into town to get a coffee. Two weeks on the boat – even doing no work would have been unbearable for him and hard for us to witness.  He's promised to get physio treatment, do lots of walking and stretches to try and get himself fit enough to join us in Singapore and then it's back to the boats for the leaving ceremony and slipping lines at 10.3. He's obviously completely gutted and we all feel for him. I can't begin to imagine how distressed I would be if I had to pull out of this for any reason at all. It's unthinkable – so I won't think about it!.
By 10am the heat is almost unbearable – as are the goodbyes for some leaving their loved ones waving a wet-eyed farewell from the pontoon as we slide out into the bay. Some need an hour or so to turn their minds fully to sailing but the rest of us are eager to be off and already enjoying the breeze that welcomes us back out to the ocean and the next leg of our challenge. It's 2010. A new start to the year and for us a new start back into the race, we are all determined that this leg we will do better. We will sail harder and faster – living up to our boat song and we have our sights firmly set on a podium position.
As race start nears we are all just a tiny bit nervous – anxious to avoid another close encounter with another Clipper – and particularly anxious to stay well away from Cork!  Piers's tactics position us with a perfectly timed run across the start line. We cross mid-field but have a great angle and round the first marker in third place and head out into the Indian Ocean on a high.

By the approach of first night watch we can still see almost all the other yachts. This is the closest the fleet has been on start day. I have mixed feelings. On one hand it's great to see the other yachts, on the other hand I'd rather we were storming ahead of them and leaving them eating our wake! It's testament to how closely matched we all are and just how hard a battle this and the remaining races are going to be.