The record attempt is back on the rails as Spirit finds the wind again and talk turns to rum and rotis

Brett at the helm

SALVATION! The wind we’ve been promised for the last two days has finally arrived! After yet another long, hot day of single figure boat speeds (how blasé I’ve become!) the wind arrived, or we arrived at the wind, in the late afternoon. We’re flying along now in the mid teens under full main, kite and spinnaker staysail. The talk I can hear coming from the deck above me is of arrival estimates and rum. Suddenly breaking the record seems quite achievable again (should I be tempting fate by writing this?) although it will be more like a fracture than a convincing smash. We may just shave several hours off, but after all the effort and considering the three or four days of light breeze we’ve had, that’s a damn sight better than finishing a few hours late. That really would take the biscuit.

Someone sleeping in a bunk near the chart table, Martin I think, has just called out that he’s ‘Ready to gybe!’

The renewed noise of the high load trimming drove me from my bunk under the primary winch to the relative quiet of the sail locker where I collapsed on some spinnakers. I don’t know if it was simply because I’m no longer used to it, but the reverberation of the PBO spin sheet being eased from the drum shook my teeth in their sockets. The whooshing of miles past the hull heard up in the bow was like a lullaby in comparison, but I kept waking up thinking I was sleeping on deck, expecting a rush of cold water down my neck as the bow dipped into the back of each wave.

I’ve just been brought a cup of lemon tea by Tom. We’ve run out of bread, sugar, milk powder, normal tea and ketchup (an essential accompaniment to some rehydrated meals) and we’re almost out of cereal and UHT milk. If it wasn’t for the chance discovery of a single foil pack of lemon tea, night watches would be down to unsweetened black coffee. If we miss the record, it won’t be because we carried too much food!

So this is almost it. It’s incredible how fast it’s gone. Ten days of exhilarating, sometimes frustrating sailing, punctuated by a daily report to you. Soon we’ll be sniffing the land, getting our first glimpse of the famous Pitons, then smelling the rotis and rum. I’m watching the numbers climb steadily on the log ahead of me: By this time tomorrow Spirit should be lying at anchor in Rodney Bay, her crew securely anchored to the bar.

We are really thundering along now! It feels so good to be moving like this again. On a cruising boat, when you’re not making good progress, you can console yourself with a bit of luxury, a fresh water shower, a glass of wine, a delicious meal. On a racing boat, the very raison d’etre is speed. From the webbing deck eyes to the bare Kevlar hull, there is nothing aboard Spirit that does not in some way contribute to her going faster. Without speed, we have nothing. We just took off on another 18 knot surf and it’s once again difficult to stay on the chart table seat as the stern fishtails down the waves. After the deprivation of the last few days, we are being given a last taste of just what sailing Spirit is all about.