Race 9 Day 3, Mon May 17th

17th May
My last couple of off-watches I haven't been able to face my bunk. It is SO hot and airless. The humidity is still bad. Everything feels damp from sweat and for the first time since the start of the whole race I really want to get off the boat. Not away from the racing and the sailing but I'm struggling to face the living conditions. Even though it's marginally cooler as we get slightly more north it's still foul below decks. Even though there's a good breeze on deck, until we can open the hatches we won't benefit from that in the fore-peak. Tom came to my rescue and said I could kip in his bunk in the mates cabin at the back. Here they can have their two tiny hatches open as there is much less likelihood of any spray getting in.  And here I was able to catch up on some sleep and keep my mood buoyant.

At this pace we've calculated that we could well cross the finish line by early afternoon tomorrow! We've been steadily trucking between 8 and 10 knots.  In an early sched today we were in fist place – because we are the furthest north – however we still need to get east and all day we have kept a close watch on our two nearest rivals – Australia and Cape Breton. Australia have been on the horizon just ahead of our starboard beam and Cape Breton on roughly the same line just aft of the beam. Australia are now in front and we keep bouncing between being put 2nd or 3rd behind them.  Finland, who were up here in the mix, have dropped behind and we hear on the grapevine that they might have a rip in their mainsail. So it looks like it's a full-on battle between us, the Aussies and the Bretons.

We are managing to use little wind-shifts to creep further east but we know we will have to tack to make the angle round the eastern corner of Jamaica. We are just hoping that the other boats have to tack too, which will keep us in with a chance.

I go off watch at 7pm and get up at 11pm to see the Mast head light of the Aussie boat – still in the same place on the horizon as it was earlier – but no sign of the Cap Breton lights. There is no sign on the AIS system on the Nav computer about how far those two boats are. We think they've turned their systems off! It's all very tactical! The next scheds come in confirming Australia in the lead, us in second and Cape Breton 9 nms behind us. We rejoice but I find that hard to believe - unless they've had a problem. They are a fast boat and have always given us a run for our money. I keep checking the horizon and just before we go off watch at 3am – sure enough I spot a red port light, on the horizon – exactly where they were all afternoon. I check the AIS and there they are – only 3.5 miles away! I inform Justin before going to bed. We need to keep any celebrations in check and keep concentrating.  Anything could still happen.