AT STADE D'ATLANTIC
Position 16.46N 56.35W
We were keeping up a
good pace now, with the "Big Blue" spinnaker leading our
We watched the
'miles to go' click down to under 500 in the night, and with the sails set, the
crew started to ponder crossing the finish line, and returning to the World that
they had left behind over two weeks ago.
On such a long
journey, the crew had not let themselves think more than a couple of days ahead,
just concentrating on the challenges at hand and getting safely and happily
through the next 24 hours.
Taking shade from
the sun, the discussions turned to what (apart from our families) we had missed
most, and what purchases would be prioritised as soon as our feet were on dry
land. It was clear that the no.1 priority for most of the crew was a
cold beer, 8 lined up on a bar for all the crew. Following that, Simon and Bails
were looking forward to long showers that lasted more than 60 seconds, and
Charlie and Dave would be looking for a latte and a mars bar (with a coke
chaser for Dave of course).
Bailey's chicken & porcini mushrooms in a white wine sauce with cous
cous, led into a lazy afternoon of reading and listening to
By dinner we had
received the days positions of all the boats, and were a little
disappointed that we had not closed the gap further with the ones in front.
As the boats on the southern route clearly had stronger winds, new contenders
were now coming in to the fray - with one Belle, jumping into the top 5. This
meant we were holding 5th position in class (over the water), just one mile
behind La Royere.
The winds were
building, and we were struggling to eat our beef in ale with potatoes. The
traditional Rioja even had to be left until desert, as it was impossible to hold
on to everything as we flew along at 9.5 knots into the
With an early night
on the cards for most of the crew, the main topic of conversation at the dinner
table was that we had nothing interesting to report in the web diary....how
wrong we were...
1.06am Ian banged
into cabins "All hands on deck - we've got a wrap".
on a shout, the crew clambered for clothes and life jackets, and were all
assembled on deck in under 60 seconds.
The scene that
confronted them was a scary sight, with the more experienced sailors
knowing this was a serious situation. In a heavy gust of wind the "Big Blue"
spinnaker had wrapped itself around the forestay, and was now in an 'hour glass'
shape unable to untangle.
Immediate action was
vital before it got worse, but it was wrapped so tight the
sail would not come down.
Over the next hour
the encounter was like an epic game of rugby against Odin's own XV. On
the foredeck Charlie, Bails, Tollers, and Nicko were engrossed in a frantic and
relentless maul with the bottom of the sail - waves crashing over from the
dark. Cheetham at scrum half was directing the attack, lay on his back in
front of the mast with a high powered search light pointing to the heavens.
Behind him in the cockpit were our defence of Simon, Ron, and Tom - with an
overview of what was happening up front they repeatedly tried to sway conditions
in our favour, turning the boat to try and give us an
The sound of the
angry sail meant that it was impossible to hear anyone shout unless they were
next to you.
Like any good team,
the most important element was trust in your team-mates. Up front
the foredeck team were trying to untwist the sail around the
forestay, in the knowledge that if more than two of them let go at any
time, the others could be lifted from the deck by the power of the
At around 2.00am
someone called full time - we had fought and fought, but Odin was not letting
go. To Charlie's relief, Andy decided it was too much of a risk to go
up the mast in the dark. We would contain the problem for now, and schedule a
return fixture with Odin at dawn.
Ron spun the boat
round and round, now helping the sail to wrap tighter around the forestay. This
would cripple our ability to fully sail, but would keep the spinnaker out of
The crew retreated
to the cockpit, the knowledge that after 2000 miles and the drama of Tropical
Storm Delta we were now effectively out of the race with less than 500 miles to
Nobody spoke for a
moment before a shout went out.
forward with disbelief to see one of the tighter twists at the top come loose.
Without speaking the foredeck crew ran back into action, diving on the
bottom of the sail. The referee above had called for extra time! With Bailey
acting as the anchor, Charlie, Tollers, and Nicko passed the sail repeatedly
around the forestay, hanging on with everything they had. Five turns, six,
seven...then suddenly Andy shouted "It's free!". The sail was dragged to the
foredeck in an instant.
A few moments
silence was broken with the sound of relieved laughter. The full time whistle
was had gone - ATLANTIC LIONS 21 ODIN'S XV 20. We'd done
The beast of a sail
was returned to it's cage in the forepeak - and the genny unfurled and poled out
to starboard. Still doing 9.5 knots under the new rig, we celebrated with a cup
of tea. Back in the race, the 'miles to go' clicked down to
"Looks like it's
bedtime then...who's on watch?"
Finally once again
thank you all for your emails (especially Ladybarn House School) we love
receiving them they bring a smile to our faces every time and keep us in touch
with the outside world.