14:59.32N 39:42.42W

Thu 2 Dec 2010 14:54
And they're off!

Our race has finally begun! Yesterday afternoon we found a thin band of breeze (around 30Nm deep) and got the spinnaker up. We were traveling between 11-13.5 knots for the next 3 hours......And so it has continued. Not with the spinnaker but we have snook into this small channel of wind and hung onto it, chasing the next lift and playing with each gust. We are more match racing than crossing the atlantic, but it has got everyone fired up and working like trojans!

Yesterday evening as the sun went down, the rain started to move in and by 2100 the heavens opened. I have rarely seen such heavy constant rain. The decks were absolutely awash with a good inch of water. It couldn't drain away as fast as it was falling. The wind was varying from 15 knots to 35 knots in the blink of an eye, so canvassing for it was tricky and relentless, especially because we couldn't see what we were doing. But I pressed and pressed the crew and they pressed on! Been blown away with all of them over the last 24 hours. When we smelt blood of the 1st place multihull at around 1200 yesterday, we were only 78Nm behind them and traveling well. By 1800 we were only 28Nm behind and I promised the crew that if they kept the pressure up through the night, when the weather was so horrendous and most others would be reefing down in preparation for the squalls, we should move into 1st spot by the morning. Sure enough, I got up and 0600 this morning just to check and almost everyone else was up waiting for the news..... 23Nm ahead! we had moved up into 1st spot!

Well that was it everyones concentration lifted another level as we began o trim the boat down and then .... BANG!!!!!! The shackle holding the outhaul completely failed dropping the Carbon Boom onto the canopy on the fly bridge...... Oh F**K!

So there we were at 6am with me swinging like a sleepy unco-ordinated chimp from the back of the boom in a force 5-6, desperately trying to replace the shackle, untie bonded lines and facilitate a repair job....fast! All I kept thinking was, we're wasting wind and time, every minute lost is a good 20 mins hard work from the previous horrendous night! BUT within 15 minutes and a LOT of swearing, sweating and grunting, we had our brand new outhaul, lines and shackles in place and we re-raised the sail, trimmed hard and were back up to 9-10 Knots! Since then we've just ploughed on! I know this wind may leave us and we might drop out of the back of it, but I have given the guys distance targets which we have to hit if we are to keep the wind and so far, 36 hours in, it's only bloody working!

So our next target is to climb the leader-board corrected by handicap. Now this is another challenge entirely as our handicap is grossly unfair but, you can only play the cards you're dealt and that is what we intend to do.

With the wind in our sails and a spring in our collective step, an uber keen crew and a skipper with an unhealthy competitive obsession for always winning everything, this 47 ton cruising catamaran boat has lit up like a hoby cat!

One other thing in our favour, after 10 days at sea with a crew who had no sailing experience between them, they are now more than pulling their weight and beginning to gel as a team of sailors. Don't tell them, because they already think they're all Alan McCarthur, but they're actually doing a pretty good job.

On one last note, the team would like to wish Jonesy a very happy birthday for yesterday. They didn't forget, they just didn't catch me before the blog went out.

Oh and a quick thankyou to all of you who had a little prayer for us and to God for reading my letter and acting so promptly upon it! No dancing Orcas or dolphins with their own hoops, but we'll take the wind!

OK thats about all for today as the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, I'm going outside to do a bit of sailing!

Love to all from all aboard

Race Team LBB!-)