Leg 4 Race 6 - 2nd Feb Day 1

My final night in Singapore was spent sleeping on deck under the night sky in Keppel Bay Marina. It was far too hot and sticky to attempt to sleep below decks in my bunk and anyway I'd much rather sleep on deck when it's safe to do so.
We were all up at 6am to clear Immigration and had breakfast courtesy of our hosts, as the day slowly started to dawn and the temperature likewise rose.  A much as we'd enjoyed our stop-over we were all agreed that we'd been on dry land far too long and we were ready to start racing again.
The departure was similar to the arrival with a centre-stage ceremony, lots of dignitaries parading around a local band playing, what I assume was Chinese classical music. We all thought it was a woman singing with them until on closer inspection of the stage the high-pitched vocalist was a man... and not even in tight trousers!

After marching down the pontoon to “man our boats” (!) accompanied by our boat songs we were soon slipping lines, and gliding out of the marina to gather together just outside the shipping lanes so we could cross en-mass. A lone figure in Orange (my mum) stood waving on the footbridge as we slid passed. The Hull & Humber team all lined up on starboard side and on JR's command all performed a smart salute to our sole orange supporter and then I stood on the stern waving madly until the waves could be seen no more.

The sun at 9.30am was already stonkingly hot and we were all starting to melt as we motored across the TSS (traffic separation scheme or shipping lane), eager to be off. We had a quick media task to perform before race start.  We had to fly a specially branded spinnaker provided by Welcome to Yorkshire, for the media team to film and get still shots of. We held our breath as we hoisted it. You can never be entirely sure when you have a branded sail that you have the words the right way round... it doesn't look so good if it's all backwards and once a spinnaker has been rolled and packed it's impossible to tell which way round it is!  Luckily we got it right, the shutters snapped and we dropped it, packed it and hoisted it back onto the media rib so we could start revving up for race start.

The normal prowling-round-the-start line tactics followed. The winds were fairly light so it was never going to be a rip-roaring start full of excitement but all the same yachts were all trying to time their charge for the line with some pace and to be first across.  Several of us were all trying to hold our position just a boat length from the line with still 20 seconds to go.  We may not have been charging around but it was still a tense moment as we tried to hold position without crossing the line early. We (Piers) timed it perfectly and were first across about a second or two after the starting horn sounded. This was the start we were looking for. We'd all agreed at our briefing the evening before that we were ready and willing to show what we were made of. We are all desperate to get on the podium this race – we feel we are more than capable of it and we all talked about the commitment and the little changes we could and should do to achieve it. It was now down to us to do it.

The rest of the day was spent criss-crossing the other yachts as we tacked backwards and forwards between the edge of the shipping lane and some areas of shallow waters and rocky areas.  Our two new crew members Kevin and Tania (who were on Cork and are now sailing with us to Qingdao) are proving to be very handy. Both have huge amounts of sailing experience and are used to being on a boat that races hard. It's obvious they are going to fit in well and while it must be difficult for them, we are doing all we can to make them feel part of our 'Umber team.

We are doing well as of 7.30pm but those of us on Port watch are not looking forward to our night watch. We've been up since 6am and while we tried to get an hour or so rest this afternoon, race start day always makes that hard. We have to go through to 2am which may be a struggle but hopefully we'll be so tired we'll then get some good sleep - despite baking slowly in a fibre-glass oven!