Mike Kopman reports from on board Spirit at the front of the ARC fleet

STOP PRESS! Sigma 38 smashes world 24 hour sailing record! Forget Mari Cha IV or even Club Med, according to our latest ARC position report from the WCC, the Sigma 38 Steamy Windows covered a staggering 1,634 nautical miles noon to noon yesterday. That’s an awesome average speed of over 68 knots! If they keep that up, they’ll be in St Lucia within the next few hours, since the report also said they had just 780 miles to go! And I thought we were sailing fast… I guess we’ll just have to concentrate a little harder on our sail trim.

Tonight is the first truly beautiful trade wind evening we’ve had. Not a squall in sight, fantastic steady reaching conditions, a gentle swell to play on and no need for anything more than a pair of shorts on deck. There are truly millions of stars visible, and a beautiful yellow sliver of moon. Above us Spirit’s rig scratches the black sky. The illuminated Windex looks like some weird undiscovered constellation. There’s also the accompanying threat of laser guided flying fish to contend with, but that just serves as further confirmation that we’re well and truly in the old sailing routes now. Going up to the bow tonight to rig the spinnaker staysail, I stood on something cold and squishy… the first of the ictheoid invaders. They’re a regular sight now, and Spirit’s low freeboard and lack of cockpit coamings or any other kind of battlements makes her crew easy targets for the kamikaze fish. Fortunately we’ve taken no direct hits yet but a number of near misses have made us consider wearing oilies again despite the perfect weather! There’s also the possibility of using any downed flyers to supplement our diet. Hunter’s beef noodles this evening – way better than the infamously bad chicken with curried rice, but there was still a certain rehydrated sameness to it.

It was wash day today for most of my watch. Buckets of sea water transformed the cockpit, normaly entirely focused on one thing, speed, into a scene from a Roman bath house; a surfing, Kevlar bath house with wobbly foundations. Anyway, the crew is now olfactorally divided into those that smell like they’ve been living in a small box together, wearing the same clothes, for a week, and those that don’t. I’m pleased to say I’m a member of the latter group.

We developed a peculiar hum emanating from the rudder last night. We suspected we had caught something around the rudder stock and this morning’ once it was light’ we used a very clever gadget to check under the hull. The ‘endoscope’ is like a long, pencil thin periscope with an eyepiece at one end and a point with a tiny mirror at the other. The device is inserted through a miniature seacock and can be swivelled around to check things out below. Everything checked out okay, the noise having dissapeared sometime during the night.

We’re suddenly heeling over at a worrying angle and the kite is flogging. MAIN AWAY! I better go…