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Crew member on ESP1 Telefónica Azul

Neal McDonald for The Independent. 26th August 2010. Received at 14:57 GMT

Sorry about the delay in any reports - it has been a rather full on three days. This is really the first time I've been dry enough to use the computer!

Day three and we have already had just about every wind speed from every direction and more incredibly completed over half the race. Everyone on Telefónica Blue is exhausted and a little sore. We have had some incredible sailing although as I write this we are almost stationary in the water.

Groupama has had the better of us latterly and is some 20 miles ahead -but there is plenty of time left for things to change. The high point so far for me was leaving the Solent in a mass of spray planning like a dinghy at speeds of between 20 and 30 knots- just great sailing - all the more enjoyable as we lead the fleet not just out the Solent but basically all the way to the south of Scotland.

The low point was having a fitting break at the top of Scotland that prevented us using our heavy weather jib for 10 hours. This allowed Groupama to get from 20 miles behind to 30 miles in front - heart breaking from a racing point of view but the sort of price you pay in these type of racing boats when things break. When the failure occurred it was pitch black (as it always is when things go wrong!) and blowing 35 knots in a horrific seaway.

To get the sail down we had to go down hill for 20 minutes (rapidly giving away hard earned windward miles) with all hands on deck wrestling the thing down below. It then took about an hour to sort out the mess and get the rather under powered storm jib up and back on our way again. Very disappointing but we are still fighting hard to get back at them. First light this morning we saw them for the first time since Dover but they since crept out of sight again. For us it is really a two horse race as we are in a division of our own so I have not even heard how the other boats are going but I can only imagine they are having the same hard slog as us!

The water is flat and I'm almost dry so I'm going to see if I can get some sleep - although I guess I'll be awoken shortly for another sail change!

Neal McDonald
Watch Leader
Telefónica Blue

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