Race 6 Day 10 11th February

11.45am Dudin Mean Time (DMT)

I arrived on deck at 1.45am this morning to be welcomed by the most beautiful starry sky. The night sky when viewed from the middle of the ocean is really the most spectacular sight. I'm by no means any expert on the stars but it's hard to miss the Milky Way, Mars is very bright at the moment but search as I might I haven't found a Fruit and Nut up there in the heavens yet! After identifying the Plough, Orion and the Southern Cross (which I've grown to love but won't be with us for much longer), I then started to make up my own. As of last night the newest star constellations are 'Kangaroo' – just to the east of the Southern Cross at the moment, 'Tortoise' – above Kangaroo, then (with slightly more imagination required) 'Poodle chasing Cat'. My favourite of the night however (and I'm sure this will catch on with others too) is 'Shopping Trolley' – and no it's not the Plough under a different name! It was hard to tell if it was a Tesco trolley or Sainsbury's but it was on a sideways slant so I believe could have come from either store. I'm trying to persuade Piers to add these to his worryingly comprehensive, self-written spreadsheet of "Stars Sights", which details what you can expect to see in the night sky, and at which angle, from anywhere in the world and for any night of the year (he really needs to get out more). I suspect he thinks I'm not taking the subject seriously enough!

At the start of the watch the wind speed had already dropped significantly and was then on a downward trend. We were managing 6 to 7 knots but over the course of our 6 hours on deck the wind died altogether. By 5am we had nothing filling the sail which was now hanging limply by the side of the boat with 3 of us gathering up the foot so it didn't drag in the water. It is so hard to keep positive when this happens and to stay focussed on trying whatever you can to keep the boat moving – especially when it seems that everything you try doesn't work. We dropped our sorry-looking spinnaker and hoisted the windseeker (does exactly what it says on the tin!), but even that flapped tauntingly from the forestay, occasionally half-filling and then collapsing again just when you are trying to trim it in order to harness some breeze. We tacked backwards and forwards several times trying to follow what appeared to be a wind-shift. It really is the most incredibly frustrating situation to be in. We have to be very careful how we move around the deck as any heavy-footedness can ruin the fine balance of the boat and knock the little wind we do have out of the sail . It's at times like this when it's really easy to lose the focus and then the position. It doesn't feel like we are going anywhere and people tend to want to wander around finding other things to keep themselves occupied. The most important thing is getting those on watch with their weight in the right position to help the boat and persuading those off-watch (like me typing away on my laptop) to also sit in the best place to help the balance.

We are hanging on every schedule from the race office. I was sure that Jamaica would have overtaken us during the night but it seems like our hard work and concentration paid off. Jamaica and Cape Breton have been hit by the same wind-hole as us but somehow we managed to eke an extra half knot of boat speed out of our 'Umba. The early scheds show that we have taken 4 miles back off Jamaica and 8 miles off Cape Breton. By the 9am scheds (boat time) today, we pulled back a further 7 miles on Jamaica (they are now 20 miles behind us) and another 2 from Cape Breton (16 miles behind us and back in second place). Some of the other boats are now bunching up behind too. Singapore have been slowly making ground (30 miles behind) Team Finland have made good ground and are 32 miles behind and California have gained 66 miles on us in the last 24 hours and are now 44 miles behind. All we can do is pray that they will hit the same winds (or lack of them) as us. As Piers keeps reminding us – we hit the wind-hole first so in theory we should be out of it first. It's the ray of hope we are all hanging on to at the moment. The situation is so tense I've been driven back to my emergency chocolate, (well this is almost an emergency). I'm now down to a final 7 blocks of my precious Fruit and Nut bar. If anyone out there keeps carrier pigeons – please send more urgently! Or perhaps those awfully nice chaps from the RAF could arrange a practice mission and parachute some down to us. We're currently at 18º 13' N, 118º 04' E as of 11.46 local time. We have 3.4 knots of boat speed and are on a heading of 54 Mag. We're the big orange boat out in front – shouldn't be too hard to spot! Thanks guys!

18.15 DMT

Having struggled with very light winds earlier, we got some lift this afternoon and spent a good 3 hours trucking along with the lightweight spinnaker up, averaging 7 to 8 knots. We were on a mini high and felt sure that we were putting good miles between us and Cape Breton and Jamaica. The good news is that we did. In the afternoon scheds Cape Breton were 19 miles behind us and Jamaica 29 miles behind us. The bad news is that the fleet that are further out to the west have not had the same light winds and have been screeching up the side of us. Team Finland are now in second place and only 5 miles behind us with Qingdao 14 miles behind in third place. In fact Australia who are the furthest behind us are only 39 miles behind. It's so close it's painful. We are probably about 36 hours from the scoring gate and in real danger of losing out on any points. The wind has stopped again in the last hour and our boat speed is down to 4 knots. If the boats out to the west still have good wind we expect to have dropped right down the fleet placings in the next scheds. It's agonising but all we can do is keep working the boat and making the most of what wind we do have. We can't do more than that. We are trying not to be too despondent but it's hard not to! I suspect the rest of my emergency choc will not last the night!