Leg 6 Race 8 Day 11, Fri April 30th

Friday 30th
Our night watch was made this morning by a stunningly beautiful Sunrise – smooth pale aqua sky framing a bright tangerine sun, unblemished other than a few dramatic clouds.
We are catching Singapore gradually. It's a long slow process and each time we check the AIS, we see we are making grounds – but only in a couple of hundredths of a mile! We are trying everything with the trim, working every wave and my arms are aching like anything having done a very full-on hour on the coffee grinder. We've been playing cat and mouse with them for the last 3 days now and while the gap between us has been as far as 7 miles we are gradually clawing that back and by mid afternoon we eke it down from 3.5 miles to 3.1 miles distance between us. Our mood has undergone a change as dramatic as the wind and weary resignation has now been channelled back into fighting spirit. We've never come in at the back of the fleet before and suddenly we see a way of fighting our way back up the race positions. The wind has picked up during the course of the day and by late afternoon we are doing a steady 10 – 11 knots with our medium weight spinnaker up. It's a very different picture from that of 24 hours earlier. We are now much further inshore – and realise that if these are the winds that the leading boats had enjoyed it's no wonder they are so far in front of us. That in turn also boosts our confidence – knowing that had we taken the same course we'd almost certainly be right up there with the top few. However our main target is still Singapore and we need to prove that we can out-sail them. The barometer continues to drop, the winds increase and we see through the Binos that Singapore have their lightweight kite up. The winds are now such that we know they won't be able to hold onto it for much longer and spot our chance to fly past them.  Gradually we reel them as the wind picks up and we are surfing along the waves at speeds in excess of 16 knots. As anticipated it's too much for their light-weight and we see them drop it and hoist a headsail. As dusk falls and the winds start to ease again we pass across their stern and start to put distance between us. Now our focus is California. They are now 15 miles in front of us and that is eminently catchable.  We just settle down to our pursuit of them when the shackle on our spinnaker halyard snaps and before we know it our mid weight spinnaker is trailing in the water along side the boat. Everyone leaps into action and with no fuss at all it's hauled in. We use the opportunity to gybe, replace a guy that looks like it's been chaffing and soon our lightweight is up and flying and we are off on the chase of our American rivals.