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Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Red watch were now back up top and it was time for Blue watch to reluctantly hand over, feeling the storm itself had more to offer. It's wierd to be so damp and cold and yet so enthralled and excited that you simply want more!

Down in the bunks, sleep was impossible as Steve, Nick, John and Martin could be heard upstairs wrestling the storm.

Steve was on the helm as the fully reefed, bare headed boat lurched shuddered and surfed through the chaos that had become this beautiful edge of the Atlantic ocean.

The bang once again shook all of us apart from the pros. Gareth in the bunk next to me mused '..kickers gone again..', a few minutes later the snoozing skipper noted in the voice he reserves for teaching, 'that rushing water noise under the boat means we're going really quick'!. I observed 'your mate Steve's got balls;. He thought this was really funny.

While he's admiring the speed of the boat and making mental notes of breakages and lost profit, and having a few good long sleepy scratches, I'm in the next bunk trying to stop thinking of the 1979 fastnet disaster!

Can I be bothered going for a slash, if in a minute the boat's going to go tits up?, was one of the other bizarre dilemmas I was wrestling with!

A few more bangs and thuds (not to mention the dent into the now long spent profit,) later and the call for Gareth came from above.

From the adjacent bunk I burst out laughing as he muttered,

'suppose a've got to urn ma muney somehow!'. My impending visit to the toilet continued to dominate my efforts to sleep.

The rest of blue watch dozed, me on the blog, Gary watching films on his 'it's not an IPOD' IPOD thing, and Bret dreaming of his Australian red dirt, or whatever the Aussie dream of.

Sleepless Steve was continuing to wrestle the storm from the helm whilst trying to remember why he and his boat were here at all! He could have been doing a nice easy charter in the solent with corporate types who'd want to get back to their hotels, giving Steve a chance to spend time with his family who he clearly loves dearly. Instead here he was, on what his mate mad Gareth had described in the marketing as one of the ultimate racing challenges.

As another wave landed on Steves head he nodded to John to take over the Helm, with Nick watching the main. Martin was trying to remember how far he could stretch the definition of fun.

Gareth and Steve had a ponder over which broken bits needed fixing now and out came the box of spares. Gareth disappeared up onto the coach roof and somehow managed to replace the shattered kicker blog yet again. The main calmed down bit.

My alarm went at 525, time to wake up blue watch ready for our 0600 till 1200 stint. Looking out of the warm wet lurching cabin at the guys above it was clear the bikini would not be enough today.

Gary, Bret and I bounced off each other around the saloon as we wrestled to dress in anything we could find that resembled a waterproof or armour plating.

A glance at the Chart on the GPS showed we should pass Sula Skeir on our shift. It's a great feeling to know the next leg of the ride is about to be over. and we'd be on the way to St kilda and then the long leg to Black rock and Ireland.

Oh, what a night ( I love that song from the 60's). Our mates on red shift had seen wind speeds consistently above 40 knots on the bow and beam. This had been the toughest watch so far and they (Steve, Nick, John and Martin) did us proud..

Now for the day. This was fantastic with the wind in the 30+knots through till around 1100hrs and seas like mountains with two separate wave patterns occasionally coming together to form massive peaks.

Gary and Steve did a brilliant job fixing the nr 3 sail again. This needlectaft workshop was becoming a routine feature of our daylight shifts whenever the boat calmed down enough to avoid stitching each other to the sails.

We passed Sula Skeir on our port(honest), a small threatening island that was soon gone as we now focussed on the leg to St Kilda.

With the wind in the high 20's - low 30's and the sea easing we handed over to Red Watch for their 1200 to 1800 shift.

As I handed over to Nick we discussed where we had each left our comfort zones behind! I thing the toilet at the Anchor in Cowes is full of dumped comfort zones!

Ken Allison,

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