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Crew member on GBR7383R Visit Malta Puma

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'What a Difference a Day Makes'

As many of you already know, we have two adopted boat songs; The Levellers 'What a beautiful Day' which gets played in the morning and the Black Eyed Peas 'I Gotta Feeling' which is traditionally our evening after dinner song. They worked exceptionally well on the Round Ireland Race to help give us a lift in morale at vital times of the race and will always serve as a reminder of our finest victory to date. Please note, I say 'to date'

For some reason on this race it has not seemed appropriate to play those songs as regularly, I am not quite sure why but it hasn't. Maybe it is because we had such an amazingly successful time and led the fleet most of the way round the course last time and this is so very different, perhaps it is because three of the team members from that race are not with us, or could it be that they will be played once we are back in the running to symbolise the return of the mighty Puma.

Every day at lunch time I play a new song that blares out of the deck speakers. It is a song I feel appropriate to the circumstances and represents something that has happened or an emotion experienced. Yesterday as we overtook Winsome it was to be Queen's 'Another One Bites the Dust' (Becki's recommendation). Now this may not be one of Queens greatest classics but it certainly cheered us up at the time and gave us a small lift at the time.

Today it was Jamie Callum's 'What a Difference a Day Makes.' Perhaps not the most uplifting song ever, in fact it is more akin to the swing style of the Brat Pack, but it was quite poignant and said everything about today, just in the title. Added to this was the mellow atmosphere on deck as everyone sat eating their noodle soup, whilst staring at the contrasting calmness of a gentle eight knot breeze blowing over the flat calm Atlantic, pushing us through the deep blue and inching us ever closer to our next target. The perfect song for a perfect moment, it summed up exactly how everyone on the boat was feeling. Yesterday was just a distant memory, a day that we know we had to endure to make us appreciate with fullness days like today.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly everything changes out here both with nature and the mental dynamics of a team, it will come as little surprise that the two are quite often closely interlinked! Today we marvelled at the cliffs of Saint Kilda as they majestically towered several hundred feet straight out of the Atlantic. As we passed by we were only a few hundred metres away from one of the most amazing landscapes I have seen in many years. The jaggedness of the rocks, diversity of shapes and strangely beautiful harshness of the most westerly outpost in the British Isles left me speechless. The past forty eight hours were worth every second just to witness one of the British Isles best kept and probably least explored treasures in full glory.

Sailing and offshore yacht racing in particular are about continually finding solutions. Every other hour a new problem will rear it ugly little head with the intention of pushing us a little bit further and a little bit harder. Often they are physical issues with the boat and sometime they are about us, the individuals on board. As the days progress the intensity of the problems seem to increase and pose a greater challenge than a similar one did just days before. Sometimes the solutions seem to find us and help make me appear to be a better leader! I obviously do not go out of my way to put everyone right on their potential misconception, but sometimes I have to admit I can not really take too much credit for the solutions; they just present themselves, we embrace them and move on as a happier and more united team.

Today the weather has improved, Puma is spotlessly clean, I have changed my underwear of the past week, we are sailing well and pushing hard and we have passed the half way stage. We are still enjoying what seems to be an endless supply of fresh fruit when our competition has long since run out. The batteries are hopefully taking a better charge now more work has been done on the engine! We may even have enough diesel to keep our electricity supply going till the end of the race!

So as you can see Visit Malta Puma is a happy ship today and we are revelling in the light conditions and sunshine. We are seizing the opportunity to re-charge our own batteries and for once I am actually enjoying light wind sailing!

As you are all probably fully aware, if Encore beat British Soldier into 2nd place on this race then we only have to finish in 5th in IRC 1 to lead the RORC Championships. Up until now we have been relying on the fact that Encore is doing a great job at the front of the fleet by keeping British Soldier at bay. However, at lunch time we had a team discussion (I told them how it was) and decided that we cannot rely on Encore beating British Soldier!

To guarantee our top place in the series we are going all out for a position that will prevent British Soldier from stealing the trophy from under our noses even if they win this race. If we come 3rd in IRC 1 of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race then British Soldier can do nothing. There is only one thing for it then..

As Jamie Callum quite rightly says 'What a Difference a Day Makes.'

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