Leg 5, Race 7 – Day 10, 11th March

This is surf city! We are trucking along and have been for a couple of days. We're in second place and taking miles out of every boat at every race schedule. We're riding the edge of a low pressure system and have hit it just right – perhaps our luck has changed ...for once!

The wind changes during the morning - we gybe the Yankee across and drop the pole and are now reaching with the winds bang on the beam – not a great point of sail.

The sun comes out during the afternoon – but the waves are still growing all the time. We try to dry out some gear but it doesn't really work as just when things are almost dry we get the occasional big wave, which flies across the boat and drenches everyone and everything! A massive one came out of nowhere when I was on the helm. It ducked me completely under water for a good 3 seconds. When I came up, I first looked for Brett who had been standing on the high side. He was still there. Then I looked for Kirsten who had been sitting just to my left. She wasn't there. I immediately looked to my right on the low side to see if she was clinging to the rail or worse had been swept overboard into the sea. No sign. I then looked behind me to see her on her back against the push-pit, held in place by her safety line at stretch. She'd banged her leg quite hard with the force of the wave sweeping her against the rail but was otherwise ok. It's in our nature now to head count those on deck after every big wave!

Engineering later on is a challenge although there is a relatively small amount of water to clear out of the bilges compared to the last few days. We manage to whizz through it in good time and then it's straight up on deck to check 'the toys' (our safety equipment) and then straight into a helm session. The waves are huge now and we are really powering along. The noise of the water as we plough through the sea is awesome. This is not a time for the faint hearted. You grip the helm, spread your feet for a really firm stance and concentrate like hell for half an hour. When the boat is this powered up there is no room for error. It's hard work but it's the ride of your life!

That was quite an adrenaline rush but what happened in the next hour was to have the blood pumping through our veins like never before. I was in the nav station filling in the 8pm log when we heard the familiar sound of a huge wave washing over the deck. This one though, just kept coming and coming. Unusually a huge amount of water washed down through the companion way and into the nav station, soaking loads of the electronic kit before I had time to pull the plastic cover across. The normal shout of 'Is everyone ok?' went up to the deck from down below. We could hear voices on deck but got no confirmation reply so knew something was afoot. Almost immediately an ashen-faced Piers arrived at the top of the companion way having dragged himself from the rail against which he been smashed by the wave. He had calmly announced to the crew on deck, after making sure that they were all alright, “Ok guys, no need to panic here, everything's ok but I've just broken my leg”. He'd realised after the wave hit – that his foot suddenly felt “wobbly and disconnected”. I'm guessing a good deal of pain also gave him a clue as to what had happened. He was then helped below deck by a few of the guys while a zillion things rushed through my mind – how would we make him ok – none of us were medically qualified, how were we going to get him to medical help, what did this mean for us in this race and for the future - it was almost certainly the end of Piers's race - we needed to fly into action to sort all of this and settle the boat down too. My main concern was for our gentle giant of a skipper. He was calm and cool but had a badly broken leg and didn't look ok at all.  The next hour was a blur of phone calls - to inform the race team back home, informing Falmouth coastguard who would then co-ordinate with the nearest Japanese coastguard and trying to seek medical advice. We had a team of people in the Nav station co-ordinating this, while I leapt into action checking through all of our medical kit and references to see what we had available, to find out what we could do to stabilise the injury and to do what we could to make Piers comfortable. I'd been with Piers as he had sifted through the medical boxes before so I knew where they were and my main priority was to help him. Tom and Charlie were busy on deck calming the boat and making sure all was ok above deck.

I found dressings and bandages for the wound as we were fairly certain it was an open fracture and I stumbled across a leg Air-splint while Mike was busy cutting away Piers's sock so we could assess the extent of the damage and deal with any blood loss.

By the time we had patched up the wound and manoeuvred his leg into the splint contact had been made with the race office and we'd been told to continue on towards Spirit of Australia – the nearest yacht that we had been constantly making gains on over the last 2 days. The plan was to transfer their skipper Brendan across to our yacht and also the medic they had on board. I'd got some advice from her regarding what pain relief I could administer to Piers and was on with preparing pills and injections for him.

We were relieved initially to have a plan but quickly realised that by going east to meet up with the other yacht we were going away from Japan, which would be the nearest point of proper medical attention for Piers. Conscious of that a few of us discussed whether or not we should persuade the office that we needed to turn around and head west. The decision was taken away from us however when the Japanese Coastguard who had been propelled into action by Falmouth, called us on the sat phone. They were already heading towards us and agreed we should turn around and head towards them as fast as possible. They said they were now in charge of the rescue operation and would contact the office inform them of our change of course.

We were all relieved that we were now doing everything we possibly could to get Piers to proper care and medical attention as fast as possible. There was some confusion as to whether or not a helicopter would be sent to rendezvous with the Japanese coastguard boat but at present we were well out of the range of a rescue helicopter so the prime goal was to head towards our target co-ordinates and to look after P as well as we could in the meantime.  Most people had been up and involved in getting the boat and the patient sorted and as we had now roughly 23 hours to run until our rendezvous it was imperative we returned straight back to our watch system in order to keep the boat moving fast and running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We all knew the score so it wasn't hard to keep the routine running. I went to bed for an hour at about 5am to catch up so that I could then take over Piers's care for the rest of the day until we could hand him over to those better equipped to do so. Sleep was never on the cards but a fitful slumber at least, helped to recharge some battery power.