The day's blogs from Ericsson 4 and Team Russia

News from Ericsson 4 on Monday 27 October 2008:

“Breeze is building steadily now and here on Ericsson 4 life is pretty good. We are running at 18 – 20kts and ticking off the nearly 3000 miles we have left to Cape Town. Every 6 hours all interest is in the weather reports – to see what has changed with the low [pressure] we are trying to use to catapult us to the finish line. There is plenty of wind in the system but realistically you don’t need 45 knots. In these boats 35 knots is more than enough – in fact it’s verging on survival.

“Any breakage now could prove costly, not only for this leg but also for leg 2 – with such a short stopover you may not be on the start line in time. Any delay getting into Cape Town can have a huge snowball affect for the next couple of legs. So all checks have been carried out to try and spot anything that may turn into an issue.

“Puma – they are persistent – like that stain on you favourite clothing, very hard to get rid of. Not sure exactly how many days we have been watching them now, but I can assure you that if red was a popular colour with me – it no longer is! I think that i must have heard the word “Steak” about 30 times already today – so guess the thoughts are on getting into port.

“I do notice that people are eating more now we are out of the really hot weather – sometimes even Tony’s (Tony Mutter, helmsman and trimmer) portion just seems to evaporate! There is a feeling of expectation as we wait for the probable kicking from the low pressure. It will be pretty hard living onboard – just cleaning and cooking and sleeping will be a huge task. The risk of being hurt below as we slam about is ever present, but we know that the miles should go very quickly and a few tough days to get ashore earlier are very welcome.

“Will see how the next 24hrs pan out”

Guy Salter, MCM

On Board Kosatka, Team Russia on Monday 27 October 2008:

“On a long voyage you become accustomed to your environment around you. The watch system shapes your days, four on four off four on four off. The freeze-dried food you eat tastes the same as it did the day before and the day before that. The clothes you put on all have the same logo as the one you put on yesterday and the one you put on the day before that. It all smells the same; it all has that musty damp sailing bag, man smell.

“The definitive goal, to win the leg, to beat the opposition, to push hard to the horizon, never changes. The sensation of speed has become rhythmical as we muscle over the waves. Sharp pull to the left, hold, lunge forward, small smile to ones-self as in respect to the power under your feet and the faith we have in this craft. The bow fires down the wave face, judders as we accelerate up to the high twenties, force forward as we plough into the wave ahead and decelerate, sway right and climb the back of the wave with a kind “I’m come through like it or not” feeling and into the circle again.

“This is translated into different forces on your body whether you are in your bunk or hanging on the grinder handles or on the bow battling the spray and deck wash, or even gripping the media desks slippery shiny carbon edge as I try to tap out a Blog using only one hand. You have conversations with other crew all doing the same strange sway, bob and totter. Filmed by a fixed camera held stationary on the bulkhead people look like they are performing an exotic courtship dance.

“The waves fly by as if in an aquatic tube coming into a station with blue waves instead of billboards. Occasionally, you focus on the leeward wash as it grabs your eye and forces it to follow through to the water exiting the transom. The torrid waves that the bow eats up are spat out behind us, washed and ironed, cleaned and pressed -good enough for Neptune’s Sunday best.

“The shear power of these boats becomes an extension of the crew that operates them. One finger can cant tonnes of swinging lead to unleash yet more power. The words you learned at school in a physics lesson and never meant that much to you now bring new meaning. Words like Kinetic, Potential, Inertia and Dynamic Loads all start represent something tangible on board.

“This trip is slowly stripping me back. I’m seeing things in a very uncluttered way, almost child like, without preconceptions, very mater-of-fact. Strangely, I’ve been waking up from heavy sleep in the foetal position curled round the beanbag with the sound of the ocean around me. On a long voyage you become accustomed to your environment around you, as if you have lived here forever. ”

Mark Covell, MCM