Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki
Red watch came on 0200 - 0600hrs
Blue watch came on 0600 - 1200hrs
This leg from St Kilda to Black Rock is the longest of the race. We remain out of coastal VHF, telephone and internet range as has been the case for all but a few hours of the race since leaving the Kent coast. Presently we are over 50 miles from the nearest land in Eire.
We took over with a little less than 100 miles to go to Black Rock.
For the first hour we were repeatedly headed and bore progressively west of our heading. As always the choice to tack was based on incomplete information, we got this one right and an hour after tacking and going down to the MH1 sail the wind shifted enough towards the east to tack back and now make almost a direct course of 202 deg to the mark at Black Rock.
During this watch we concentrated on improving our sail changing. Eventually, out of frustration and a desire to see improvement, Gareth gave a master class taking us from the L1 to nr 3 with him doing both the bow and mast work on his own. His instruction to me on the helm was very clear, he preferred not to get his feet wet!
This was a challenge as we were beating into a sea where the white horses were already racing as the wind built towards 15knots from a rather extensive fetch.
When a dry footed Skipper returned to the cockpit following an understated display of technique, speed and coordination, the disparaging jokes and banter flew regardless, with no need at all to openly recognise the expertise of this modest, likeable, rebel of a guy, who repeatedly goes beyond in his attempt to pass on his craft.
This really is a long race and with over a 1000 miles gone it's still a daunting prospect that we have yet to reach Ireland and subsequently to cross the Irish Sea from the infamous fastnet rock.
Seven of us completed the Fastnet race last year, Four of us, Gareth, Sleepless Steve, Nick and I on Cheeki Rafiki. However that was run in relatively light winds and we don't want to underestimate that leg across the Southern Irish sea.
We continuously discuss Rhumb lines and tactical options with the emphasis on the long game, trying to always be making fast progress whilst respecting the need for a safe outcome, and primarily completing the race.
We complete our shift with Gary on the helm, beating into a building sea with gusting 15 knot headers. He's certainly sorted out his Nemesis 'the wheel'.
Red watch came on 1200 - 1800hrs
Our watch system now runs like a well oiled piece of clunky clockwork. There are no dramas, the occasional late riser faces a torrent of good humoured barracking that ensures an early arrival next time.
Sleepless Steve's ever cheerful self effacing presence in the saloon is often a hilarious combination with Gary's joke's Nick's penetrating bemused observations and mimics, and Gareth's complicated funny stories.
When it comes to Tacking, Red watch must be the noisiest on the planet.
Blue Watch - Gareth, Ken, Gary and Brett
Red Watch - Steven, Nick, John, Martin
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