Velux 5-oceans Race competitor Robin Knox-Johnston faces sail problems as he heads further south 31/1/07

Log date Wednesday 31 January 2007
Position Lat 49 08S Long 173 40E
Miles To Norfolk, USA 11,258 nm
Distance In 24 Hours 214.6 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours 8.94 knots

The solent has a tear along its foot close to the clew just outside the reinforcement patch. I don’t want to risk using it again until I can fix it as it is a vital part of our sail armoury and to use it without a decent repair is asking for the whole seam to go.

I am now left between the Jib and the storm staysail, a very large gap. To use the jib in these conditions is asking to damage it as well and the trouble with the jib and solent is that they are both on furlers and so their heads are lashed to the mast.

As I no longer have the reachers I just cannot afford to lose the jib. If those headsails go I cannot get them down without climbing the mast and that, down here in the present circumstances, is not an option. Mast climbing is something we occasionally have to do but you chose your moment.

So having closed Saga Insurance nicely with the two boats in front, we are now losing out to them, but I would rather lose a bit now than lose a lot later, so we’ll have to take the present slowness on the chin and hope to close the gap again once repairs can be effected. I might try using the furler to set a bit of the jib later. It is not ideal, but there is only so much sitting thinking about losing time that you can take. Currently, without the solent, I am losing about 2-3 knots. It won’t notice when this front gets closer, but we are in a lull right now but there is too much rain about to try for a repair at present.

There are compensations, although not in the racing line. One of the team managed to find some Gentleman’s Relish after an exhaustive search throughout Perth, and bought the entire stock of four, so crew morale is being kept up. There you are Fortnum’s, an export opportunity!

Four thousand three hundred miles to Cape Horn, and no land between us, now New Zealand is past. It is a long, lonely stretch, and the sooner completed the better.