White Ocean Racing

Reports 28, 29 December

28 - 29 December - Race Status.

Another of the leaders was forced out! Sébastien Josse's boat BT was knocked down by a huge wave and sustained damage to the steering. Sébastien was unable to carry out repairs. He signalled his retirement on 29th December… He was followed an hour and a half later by the Canadian, Derek Hatfield (Algimouss Spirit of Canada), whose spreaders had broken. Steve was now 12th out of 16

29 December - Blog 14 - Highs, lows and progress.

I think I need to come down here more often to get a real handle on this place. It has been an odd twenty four hours, going from flat calm, eight knots of breeze and the lowest I have ever seen the barometer in the very centre of the last low, to having to slow the boat down as we got clobbered by the last front - there wasn't that much wind, about fifty odd knots, just a realy awkward sea state that called for the fourth reef to slow us down, (I thought it neccessary when we went from twenty six knots to seventeen in what felt like a boat length - all the telephones came off their hooks, the ammeter came out of the chart table and stuff generally went everywhere!) and that sea state has stayed with us all through today - I haven't dared go any faster for fear of breaking something else! Then in an instant, about ten minutes ago, it suddenly straightened itself out and our boatspeed has gone up fifty percent! I have to get used to those times when you just can't go flat out!

Since I wrote last, there have been some real highs and lows, I think for me the most extreme of the race so far. I have to say Christmas day was thoroughly miserable, so much so I nearly wasn't going to mention it. I felt I was on a go slow at the back of the fleet on a broken boat, on the opposite side of the world to my family who I really missed, and I have come here to race after all not cruise, and it was very, very difficult at that moment as you see the leaders slipping away, those behind gaining on you as you feel you are just firefighting breakages all the time. Alone on a boat all emotions are heightened, so all of the above coupled with some very touching Christmas cards and a sad book for a present meant I was really struggling. I had to give myself a really good talking to and examine why I was here, what I have gone through to get here, and what the event meant to me. Sometime in the early hours of Boxing Day I awoke to a sharp cracking noise and thought the worst, that the boom had come off, but no, it was my small wooden Christmas tree which had come unstuck from the chart table and all the little resin Santas had hit the chart table all at once with a sharp crack right by my ear. I took that as a sign and packed it away (until we have another little Christmas when I get home) and put Christmas and all of the asssociated emotions firmly behind me. So after having given myself a good kick up the backside I pulled my finger out and had quite a good run over the next period - maybe I tried a little too hard, the generator ripped of it's mountings and is currently lashed down! Another job, but a quick and easy fix when it calms down in the next forty eight hours.

Shortly afterwards I got a call from Andy at the Race Media Centre, who told me I had done a good twenty four hour run of three hundred and something miles, and did I know I had been voted Seahorse Sailor of the Month! I had no idea whatsoever, I am in a complete vaacum out here. I cannot afford to surf the internet, so I get my news of the outside world from Kim at home, and also Brian, Jonny and Sam, so it was a complete surprise to find that anyone has noticed me lurching around out here, and a real honour to get the award that normally only famous people get! I still can't quite work out why I got it, but it just goes to show how your fortunes and mood can turn around in a matter of hours.

I am absolubtely fine now, and looking forward to getting past New Zealand, getting the boat mended and weather wise having a somewhat nicer time in the Pacific that we have had in the Indian Ocean. I want to try and get a few miles back on the boats infont of me by Cape Horn too, but I have to temper that with getting around in one piece, that attrition is still horrendous still after I had hoped we had seen the last of it.

I am busy learning French now with Michele Thomas - he is very good, if a little scary. I expect he went to school in the days of frequent cane usage, and you can tell just sometimes from his voice that he wouldn't mind using it on some of his pupils ocasionaly! If nothing else breaks I'll be speaking like a native by the time I get home!

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