Tim Thomas samples the pure, unadulterated joy of sailing

Tim Thomas feels no pain as he power-reaches to New Zealand:

‘What a difference a day makes. Just when I had resolved to take up golf or gardening, the wind has shifted to the south and filled in. We have quickly moved through the gears, from full main and 0.75 spi, to 2.2 flanker, then genoa then No 1 yankee, one reef and now No 2 yankee, all in quick succession.

‘It has been a tiring morning but we are now doing what the Challenge 72s absolutely do best: three-sail power reaching at 75° to the apparent wind in moderately heavy airs, flying at 11 knots, surfing at 12.5 – and bang on the freedom trail to New Zealand to boot.

‘We may have lost overnight to the leaders, we may have overtaken Spirit of Hong Kong; we may be heading for another flat patch; the leaders may be about to get stuck in their own mire. Right here, right now, the racing consciousness is pushed to the back. The disappointments of the last couple of days no longer matter; the position reports are irrelevant.

‘I have been asked if I have seen the latest weather information, but I am not interested – I do not want to spoil the moment. I do not care for thoughts of cold beer or food, tactics or arrival times. I am not at all tired although I haven’t slept for days. The cold Antarctic wind does not bite and I am not bothered by the icy spray that leaps the rails. Not relinquishing the helm to the hungry queue on the rail is my preoccupation.

‘For the first time in days I realise what fires my passion. For the first time in days I realise why I do what I am doing, day in, day out.

‘This is a time given to savouring the pure, simple, unadulterated, exhilarating joy of sailing.’