Jo Cackett reports from Puma Logic as they head towards the Fastnet rock

It’s been gorgeous sailing to the Celtic Sea for Puma Logic with enough wind to keep us at a steady pace. The morning of Monday 8 August brought with it a light north-easterly force 3, and we were keeping a constant 6kts of speed heading towards Land’s End.

In shorts and bare feet there was a lot of languishing about in the sun by the Piranha watch team as we, the Sharks, worked the trimming of the kite on a beam reach. We kept more offshore than some of the other boats further in, aiming to keep our nose ahead of them.

On a nice run, we had a moment’s distraction when we spotted a pod of leaping porpoises feeding on fish out in the distance. The mere mention of the word ‘dolphin’ makes Jonboy’s eye’s light up so it was no wonder the kite collapsed a little when he was on the helm, which meant some much needed grinding for the trimmer.

Our position was looking good with Aon and Yeoman of Hamble in our sights behind us. And current leaders of the series in IRC Class 1, Maverick II, we were pleased to find out had just passed The Lizard at 1515 when we were at Mount’s Bay – taking us an hour ahead of them. At that point we were leaders ahead of other top IRC 1 boats such as Meta Baron and Jalfrezi. Yeehah!

The sun was harsh for our afternoon off-watch, making our turn to lie on deck a good one if we wanted frying. But it wasn’t long until I was pulled from my bunk to remerge to a dead calm sea state that looked like liquid mercury, and a boat only doing about 1.5-2kts. Leaning out on the rail on starboard tack to try jolt us out of the wind hole Sara spotted a line of wind in the distance, and the afternoon sea breeze kicked in.

Then as a lucky omen, a pod of porpoises came to play on our bow, keeping us entertained as about four of the little mammals skimmed and scooted underneath the hull and poked an inquisitive eye at us as they leaped to the surface. Our little dark grey and white friends with their crooked dorsal fins stayed with us for quite a while though, surfing the bow waves.

The wind picked up to 11kts and we went for a sail peel from the lightweight to the heavyweight genoa, but as the wind picked up too quickly we went bareheaded instead.

After another top dinner of Moroccan Lamb and Two Bean Casserole for the veges (Mark and myself – the Wombat) prepared by Philippe’s mum, the fabulous chef, Jonboy opted to do the washing up. However, he didn’t opt for slipping onto the engine throttle, and his legs wrapped round the backstay when he’d tried to fill the bucket of seawater. Unfortunately, the top of the throttle went bouncing into the water but at least he didn’t lose the use of his jimmy crackers!

We’ve had it good in terms of food. Philippe mentioned that John Merrick’s Farr 45 sailed by the Volvo Youth Squad had just had a freeze-dried breakfast, urgh. Only for Richard to reply: “You know spacemen are meant to have freeze-dried icecream,” leaving us very amused to wonder as to how they would de-freeze it! And on the subject of food, I haven’t been seasick once – a massive feat! Put it down to the numbers of stugeron I swallowed in the first 24hrs or the smooth conditions, as long as I’m not hanging my head over the side thinking I’m going to die, I’m happy.

Into the night, the Piranha watch had problems with a ship bearing down on Puma Logic and causing them to gybe, losing precious miles away from Aon. We continued into the Celtic Sea on a nice steady pace of 5.7kts with the wind around 8-9kts.

Starting off on the rhumb line heading to the Fastnet Rock, the problem of the centre of the high pressure system sitting over the top of the rock meant the wind may die off towards the rock. Into the night, we gambled by going west of the rhumb line to make the most of the stronger winds. We kept the kite up until early hours of the morn, as the Grib file forecast showed more wind south of the rhumb line which turned out to serve us well. But as Philippe, the skipper said: “The question is how the other boats further to North faired?”

With the light weight genoa up, it was smooth sailing into the twilight. While I had a logbook entry and navigating class with Mark, Brian – otherwise known as Schoomy held a good course on the helm. Estimated time of arrival to the rock – early Wednesday morning. And Plymouth – midnight Thursday?just in time for the party. As the skip would say: “Bring it on!”