by Bouwe Bekking
It has been a glamour day, sailing in blue skies and flat water. Most of the time we sailed with our code zero and staysail, but now have hoisted our big spinnaker and are still making good mileage to the finish.
We have haven't lost much against the two boats behind us, but still not feeling very comfortable, as the models show hardly any wind for us at the finish, where the boats behind still have breeze. Thirty miles ahead sounds a lot, but this can get eaten up in no time when one is parking up. Remember the last leg, where Ericsson 4 had a healthy lead, and then they made a wrong choice and ended up without wind, and there we appeared, like sharks with no mercy.
So another night where our nerves will get a good test. I think it will become extremely cold tonight, the sun is starting to go down and you feel the temperature dropping rapidly, the water temperature is only 5 degrees. Brrrrr.
Pepe (Pepe Ribes/ESP) had an encounter with a wave on the foredeck, and you saw on his face how cold the water is feeling, his hands ended up numb for minutes. I think it will be the first time for most of the guys to sail in under zero degrees conditions, as that is for sure going to happen. In Holland everybody would become nervous if you had a day like this, as freezing temperature means ice will form to go skating. I hope I have time in Qingdao to find an outdoor ice rink. Having a bad back or not, it will be vitamins to do a couple of laps.
Back to the boat: Downstairs we have very manageable temperatures, we have the generator running non-stop to create some extra heat and good sleeping bags are doing their job. Jono (Jonathan Swain/RSA) got his birthday present but he was a bit disappointed when he saw it was chocolate, as we have plenty of that onboard for this leg.
We had today a good check through the entire interior and checked all the bondings of all the bulkheads and the big hull panels; nothing was noticeable which was a big relief. But we will have another good check once we are in the harbour by the real specialists, our shore crew.
So we have a long cold night ahead, luckily we get an update every three hours to see where the other two boats are, so at least we can try to cover them as best as possible. It is so simple, stay in between the finish and your opponents, piece of cake on paper, but I am sure we will have a bit on.
Volvo Ocean Race