White Ocean Racing

May 19 - Steve's blog Number 8.

Bouncing along nicely.

Just a short one today, I am trying to get a quick nap in before lunch, and I've only just had breakfast! I dozed at the chart table last night as the wind shifted and then shifted back again, and we accordingly tacked and stacked, and then did it all again! It was just building nicely and we were soling straight at the ice gate, I had come off the deck to hear the phone ringing - it was about 5 am! Your immediate reaction when you get a call at that time is either it's an emergency or someone is being a pest! I picked up the phone and resisted saying "Do you know what the time is???!!!!" , and discovered a very polite OC person who wanted to interview me - goodness knows why! He reminded me of my Mother, he asked if I was getting enough sleep and was I getting enough to eat!

After that is was reef time - move the mainsail down the mast to make it smaller and squash up the spare material at the bottom - which happens all the time as the wind strength goes up, and the opposite happens as it gets less windy. Anyway, you all knew that I'm sure. Pleased with my efforts I put the porridge on, that was at about 6 ish I think.I got to eat it at about 11 after I had put another reef in and changed sails at the front as the wind built more and more. We are currently going upwind in about 23 knots and the boat is happy even if typing is difficult as we bounce around.This boat is hard work between 15 or 16 knots and 22 knots - you go from having full main and solent, (the rolled up sail that lives at the front) and two reefs and the smaller staysail at the front within a very small wind range of about 5 knots, so as everything is a reasonable amount of work, particularly if you do the wrong thing and have to undo it straight away, you spend a lot of time scratching your head ad saying "Is this just a bit windier under this cloud?" or "Is it going to get less windy in a minute so I can live with too much sail for a while?" You inevitably spend time with the boat lying on it's side over-canvassed or bobbing around like a rubber duck in the bath with not enough sail up! Coupled to that some of our sails are not as new as they once were (Two are original 1998 vintage) and we have to look after old rigging by not pushing too hard so that the mast stays up, but at the same time remembering we are in a race, which despite my position is at the forefront of my mind! That's why it takes 5 hours to get breakfast sometimes.

On the plus side, I have had a stiff neck for the past few days which seems to have gone now. I think it is a recurrence of an old combine driving injury - sitting hunched over the wheel with furrowed brow looking into the table on the front day after day used to give me a bad neck - I am now in the same position and with furrowed brow but with the comms, weather and computer at the chart table instead. I have, as a consequence, been very glad of my Buff. A Buff is a very versatile and useful piece of kit which is everything from a hat to a neckwarmer and many other things all at once. Mine has Gore Tex Windstopper as well, so it is ideal for keeping the draughts off a stiff neck and stopping waves getting down your thermals! All the team including the kids were supplied with Buffs, which was very kind.

This is getting a bit of a chore to write now, the wind is building and the keyboard is moving as am I, as the boat slams away towards the ice gate. As a consequence every second word is miss-spelt as I accidentally hit the wrong keys. My spell checker will get a real workout!

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