Race 10 Day 2, Tues May 25th

After the frustrations of last night – making ground on all the leading yachts one hour, to lose it all and then some the next, we got up for watch at 7am this morning to discover that the scheds now put us in 2nd place!  We were pleased but took the news with a pinch of salt as the positions are always calculated on a straight line distance to finish and we are sure some of the other boats are in a better position than  we are.

The fleet split in to two groups overnight. Finland, Australia, Edinburgh and California who tacked off to the East early and the rest of us who stayed further North.  The mast-head lights that we watched over the night gradually separate and disperse, had gone but there was no daylight sighting of sails on any horizon to replace them.  We knew they were not far our there however. Pretty soon our old adversaries Cape Breton appeared out from the East and crossed in front of our bow.  There's nothing like the close proximity of another yacht to concentrate the mind and focus your energies. All who weren't busy clambered onto the rail and Justin came on deck to give the helms a “pep talk”. After 2 hours we finally climbed higher than them and edged passed them and after some more “Call my Bluff” tacking we finally put some distance between us in exactly the same way we'd done on the final run into Jamaica. Skipper Justin crowed that we now had the psychological edge and that they'd give up chasing us. I'm not so sure. The Cape Breton crew are a very determined bunch and I think we'll be battling them all the way to the finish line!

The new crew are settling in fine. The pressure is all on the helming and they are nervous about taking it on, not wanting to let the team down. We are trying to make it easy on them by mentoring them through and giving them a course to steer to rather than expecting them to be able to sail to apparent wind and boat speed.  I seem to spend every minute I'm not busy doing that, with my eyes glued to the binoculars looking for other Clipper yachts. I've developed a way of 'sensing' coloured branding on a sail rather than seeing it. Earlier today I “felt” red on the main and surmised the yacht to be Cape Breton – which was exactly who it turned out to be. I'm also sure I spotted Spirit of Australia before lunchtime too but they never came close enough to
confirm my 'feeling' for a predominantly Blue flag!

The tension is pretty high. We have another 2 days sailing before we'll be out of the Caribbean Sea. Justin believes whichever yacht leaves this area first will be the winning yacht.  The lunchtime scheds are in and it has us back in joint 5th. Because we are all at different angles to the way-point it's hard to tell if that's a fair representation of our position.  What it does show is just how closely contested this and more than likely every other race from now on will be.  Although after 8 months of sailing, many of us are pretty shattered, this is no time to let our concentration or energy levels drop. There are 5 races still for the taking and we are determined to fight all the way back to Hull.

By evening we are tacking like mad to make it round the way-point between Cuba and Haiti.  We get the scheds. We thought we were doing ok but Finland have rounded the way-point and are 18 miles in front of us. We are currently in 7th place and in a dying breeze. Once round our virtual mark, it's Spinnaker up and our speed picks up a tad. The mood becomes more positive as we hope we might now be able to
gain some miles back. We'll find out in the morning.