Despite trailing the fleet, Campbell Field, navigator aboard VOR yacht Sunergy, is enjoying the magnificant downwind blast towards Cape Town

Position 29,37.82N , 22,14.75W
Speed 18 knots, Course: 181 deg.
UTC Time 16 November 2005 1945

Well we now feel like we are in a yacht race, not in a holding pattern/reconstruction mode. We have been ‘Champagne yachting’ for the last 18 hours, and to beat the over used quote to death: “It couldn’t get much better than this.”… It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, it’s not too windy and it’s not too light. We have had our big bertha C1 spinnaker up all day, a full main and spinnaker staysail, gybing on the 10-15 degree windshifts that are coming our way due to cloud action and the change in the weather systems around us.

With winds ranging from 15-25 knots and an average of 18 or so, we have averaged 15.9 knots of boatspeed over the last 24 hours, making our total miles run about 380 miles. Top speeds of 24.5 knots in 25 knots of wind, you could say we are fair ripping along – and for the sailors out there – that is at our VMG running angle. This all isn’t really reflected in our overall run for the day and distance from the other boats because we have been gybing down the track rather than sailing in a straight line at the mark like our friends from Brazil, Holland x 2 and Sweden ahead of us (and New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Denmark, America, UK etc).

There are two reasons for this, 1) the other boats are further south and therefore sailing in a different wind direction than us, and 2) part of our strategy for the next 1,000 miles or so is to set ourselves up a little differently as we are not going to catch them by following them. I’ll not go into too many details, but you would have to agree that we will have to be a little different to get back in the game. We are not rolling the dice on this one, just being aware that we have to be a little bit more clever. There were a few discussions on the boat today about the fact that history has proven that a 5/600-mile deficit is not a disaster when you have around 5,000 miles to go.

In the last Volvo Race 30 or 400 mile leads/deficits evaporated in days. So, a message to all our supporters out there, don’t give up hope, we haven’t!

A little bit about the environment I am sitting in right now…I’m sitting here surrounded by black carbon, a couple of PC screens, GPS, Radar and a couple of radios, all we really need to satisfy our IT needs at sea. A few inches above my head is the base of a grinding pedestal that comes through the deck connecting it to a variety of gearboxes and switches to direct the drive to a few of our winches. This also serves to drip water down my back at irregular intervals, half deafen me when it is in use, and it reminds me that next time I go to sea to cut my hair a bit shorter.

I’m perched on a black carbon shelf, while my butt goes completely numb. I can smell dinner ready to go in the galley, lamb stew and couscous – smells great. Fraser has put us on to a winner with tickling up the freeze-dried, he snuck on board with a handful of fresh garlic – slicing up a clove into your meal works wonders. I doubt I’ll get away with this at home, but here, the smell doesn’t bother anyone.

The off watch are devouring it while getting ready to go on deck for their stint on watch, and the off coming watch will be down in 10 minutes to have their go at it. I usually have to remember to shout out a few times so they don’t forget me back here in my little black box. I like my food, even freeze dried. I can hear the guys on deck enjoying the ride, and pushing the boat as hard as they can. Water bashing the hull while we surf to 20 knots. All good fun.

I had better sign off, go and claim my dog bowl full of re-hydrated food. Then I better have a bit of a kip before a scheduled radio call with the other boats, then at midnight I get some new weather information to confuse myself with for a few hours.

Campbell (Field – navigator)