Sir Robin reflects on an eventful leg 2 in the Velux 5 Oceans race, he writes his last log 30/3/07

Log dateFriday 30 March 2007
PositionLat 36 06 N Long 75 00W
Miles To Norfolk, USA81 nm
Distance In 24 Hours243.2 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours10.14

Nearly there and this nightmare of a voyage will be over. The forecast was for NNE winds Force 4, but we got NNW Force 5 to 6 all yesterday, culminating in a tear in the mainsail just below the third reef which crippled us a bit. It meant that instead of Saga Insurance making a direct line for the finish and perhaps finishing late this morning, we still have 72 miles to go and are now tacking laboriously northwards.

We were in the Gulf Stream for seven hours, which had the benefit that the water that came crashing over the boat was warm, 26 degrees Celsius, but with wind against the stream the waves were short and steep. It gave us an additional 1.5 knots for a while. The disadvantage with closing the coast is that we run into shipping again, so little sleep this last night.

This has been my third longest non-stop voyage after Suhaili and Enza’s circumnavigations. It’s been a nightmare from a racing perspective, too much time lost through faulty equipment and untrustworthy weather information, plus the usual prevalence of the wind to head when it could equally have freed us.

From a sailing point of view I have had some wonderful moments, surfing in the Southern Ocean, rounding Cape Horn and seeing it clearly for only the second time, crashing through sparkling blue seas beneath a warm but not too hot sun are the memories you treasure and why, I suppose, one keeps coming back.

But right now I want to get away from the boat for a few days, away from the sea even, and deprive myself of both so I can re-build my usual enthusiasm for the final leg and forget this one, which I never want to repeat. Unai will have more than 2 days advantage over me for the sprint of 3,500 miles to Bilbao, and that’s probably just too much to expect to catch up. I shall, of course, try and beat him on the leg itself, but my objective has to be to catch up those two days and beat him for third overall. It is not an easy proposition as he has been sailing much faster recently and is not the type to roll over on his back and wave his paws in the air.

I cannot say there has been an onset of Channels Fever as we approach the finish. This, traditionally, is generated by the excitement of coming into the English Channel on a homeward voyage. On the cadetship, with 39 of us between 16 and 21 years of age, it was a pretty rowdy affair, dinner followed by the first tripper’s concert.

This will be the last blog this leg as we ought to finish late this afternoon or evening provided the wind does not serve up any further unfortunate surprises.