Pip Hare reflects on a difficult stopover in Shetland and the fast ride ahead

The stopover in Shetland has been a difficult time for us all. Gale force northerly winds blowing straight into the dock we are moored in have wreaked havoc through the whole fleet.

Boats have been damaged, sailors have got little sleep and morale among the fleet is fairly low.

This is the halfway point in the race, and tell tale signs of tiredness are starting to show on the faces and in the tempers of competitors. Though everyone’s spirits are still intact, a tumultuous stopover was not what any of us needed and we are all looking forward to getting back to sea again, just to save the boats from more damage.

Our hosts on the island could not have been kinder. Every boat has been allocated a host, who have looked after our every need. RIBs have been on hand to help with moving the boats against the 30 knot winds, and a proper ship’s tug was even provided to get the 40s off the dock yesterday, when the RIB power would just not do.

I watched them leave with mixed feelings. Everyone was nervous, aware that they were leaving into some fairly harsh conditions, but this was balanced by the knowledge that it would be a super fast ride.

We are going to catch the last of the blow, but the wind is already dying and as we sit here waiting for our start, Jbellino and DingDong, just behind us overall in the IRC results, are making many miles in a great following wind. All the time, they are banking the hours between us and them.

I have been trying to catch up on some sleep as I arrived here pretty wrecked. I also have been recovering from a fall I had on the last day of Leg 3. I tripped, landing with my knee on the traveller, but also twisting my hip and ankle. I now have quite a painful leg and am walking with a comical limp.

Luckily enough Warwick from Thunder was on hand to have a look at the le. He tells me it’s nothing too serious, no ripped ligaments or anything, just a bit of tissue damage. The answer is to keep taking the painkillers and let my body do the rest.

I think once I get sailing the leg will be forgotten; it is just when ashore that I allow myself the time to acknowledge there may be a problem.

There is some concern here about the welfare of the guys on Paradox, as their tracker is showing they are only making 3.8 knots. No one has heard from them we all just hope they are under control and safe.

The work list for this stopover has included servicing all the winches, a full check of the steering gear and another rig check. At this stage we do not need any gear failure; we still have to push the Shed hard over the next 1000 miles and need to look after her, for her to look after us.

Onboard The Shed this race is being renamed the great cake hunt; as when we arrived in Lerwick, there was again another parcel waiting for us from friends Ian and Fee. This time a ginger cake baked with love in Andover and sent to 60˚ North for a couple of strung out hungry sailors. I cannot think of a better or more thoughtful gift.

So here we are waiting………

I know I am going to race today as I could not eat my porridge this morning. Nerves kick in and I am operating in a tense anticipation of what will happen on the next leg. This seems to be a problem for me, I have to force myself to eat while we are racing, and have already lost quite a bit of weight on this race.

Phil is the same and has happily reported he has gone in a notch on the belt which he says means there is more room for beer. Happy Days!

We are doing well, but the race is far from over and we are competing with some talented and serious sailors who are out to catch us.

Someone asked me yesterday whether I was happy with our result so far. Well of course the answer is yes, but I am by no means relaxed and am certainly not in the mood for celebrating. Every minute things change when you are yacht racing, the variables are never ending and nothing is a given.

We have worked really hard to gain a lead over our class. Leading IRC overall is an unexpected bonus to this, however to a certain extent that is in the lap of the gods, as we are racing against boats that left 9 hrs before us and will have totally different weather to sail in.

It looks like we will get the last of this northerly blow and then the wind will die off and there is a big high coming to sit over Lowestoft. We need to make every one of those hours in the wind count for as many miles as possible, then who knows what will happen.

The waiting is excruciating. Right now I just want to go.