Erratic winds make for a tough night aboard Hugo Boss. Alex Thomson reports 1/11/06

I used to really love a good bashing to windward until I started sailing open 60s! All the modern Open 60s are large flat-bottomed beasts and going upwind in a good breeze into a large sea is a kin to bashing your brains out against a brick wall. Up the wave and then SLAM down into the trough on the back of it and I mean SLAM. The noise is horrendous and the whole boat shakes, I can feel the bottom of the boat which I am standing physically move. I have done a fair few miles upwind into big seas in this boat and I am always amazed how the bloody thing stays together let alone how the mast stays up.

We took a good beating yesterday and particularly last night, winds from 10 knots to 35 knots and a building, confused sea. The varying wind strength meant reef, unreef, then double reef, and constant attention.

You can’t say to yourself, “I’ll leave it to wait this one out” as the mainsail will not take the punishment, so the last 24 hours have been hard labour and listening to the boat beat herself up in the process. I started on port tack sailing south-west and last night when the wind turned to the south-west so I tacked and went south, which is where I am currently heading.

It was difficult to eat and sleep properly yesterday so today my priority will be tidying up the boat and getting myself back to 100 per cent – starting with a couple of bacon sandwiches! I managed to fall on my favourite Boss sunglasses last night so will have to commit them to the bin and break out a new pair. They were useful yesterday as a windscreen in the pouring rain but this morning the sun will come up and the eyes need their shades.

The weather ahead looks light for a time and after that we will see some much awaited trade winds, downwind Champagne sailing, Mumm of course… We may see the leaders slow a little today but they will hit the trades first, and Golding and I will have to negotiate a light wind area to enter the trades, after that it’s the doldrums. Lou Reed this morning i think