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Crew member on GBR7383R Visit Malta Puma

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Day 4 - 11.00hrs

Greetings from Puma

It really is a " Beautiful Day" (courtesy of the Levellers!). Sunshine, 11 kn of wind,

8 kn boat speed and on course.

Cannot believe that I am out in the North Sea taking part in the RBI again!! After the 2006 race I promised myself that it would be the first and last time, it was a war of attrition - wind against all the way round, explain that! We sailed in a circle

(clockwise), wind on the nose all the way up, turned right at the top to come back down and the wind turned 4hrs later, a beat all the way down. To add insult to injury when we turned right at Dover the wind turned with us! So never again!

Things looked a bit different, when in Wicklow, having won our class in the Round Ireland and having it must be said a few glasses of the hard stuff, it seemed to be a perfectly plausible proposition. So here we are!

Without being too philosophical (those who know me will confirm that this is not one of my more recognizable traits), offshore racing has more than its fair share of ups and downs, which means that those who partake are either masochists or optimists - I tend to put myself in the latter category.

Tuesday was a very good example - 27hrs into the race, leading our class, strong wind, fantastic experience, life does not get much better. Sudden squall, 60kn wind and driving rain, 15mins of absolute organised chaos during we got the head sail and the main down on deck without damage (except for a broken jib halyard) and just as importantly with everyone still intact and on board! Look around thank the heavens and Philippe and hoist everything back up again - keep racing, memo to self, must remember to take the blood pressure pills.

Then the bad news, alternator problems, keep racing while they try to locate and resolve problem, 2 hrs later turn back towards Great Yarmouth. Difficult to describe how bad one feels going from first to last, adrenaline stops, retrace all the hard fought miles, feel very tired, the boats quiet, none of us actually think that there is any chance of repairing the alternator and restarting the race. We discuss the options of returning to Shamrock or sailing round Scotland and England, not much enthusiasm for either.

Arrive Gt Yarmouth, more alongside Incisor who suffered a broken boom in the same squall, apparently 2 crash jibes did the damage - eureka! the alternator starts working, don't know why, don't care why. Now the difficult bit, do we go out again knowing that by the time we reached the turn back point we will have lost 20 hrs on the leaders, or do we call it a day.

Easy decision for me - 3yrs ago during the 2007 Fasnet we had to divert to Salcombe to put Tom, complete with a broken leg, ashore. We decided not to go back out - a decision I have regretted being part of many times since. This time a short discussion was all that was needed, we go back out!

So here we again taking part in the RBI race, and believe me we are racing. Do we believe that we can catch up? Probably not, but there are still hundreds of miles to cover, plenty of time for fortune to smile. Not to wish ill on anyone but what happened to Incisor and ourselves can happen to anyone. We just have to make sure that we are there to take advantage - did I mention that I am an optimist!

So life is good!

Finally can I say a quick hello to family Maire, Anna and Oscar (all in Shanghai), David in Singapore and Siobhan in Penge and a big thank you to all those who have sent messages of support, they are much appreciated, keep them coming.

Brian

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