Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Ericsson 4 in the English Channel. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.
by Guy Salter
Without offending anyone who lives to the east of the Greenwich meridian line I have to say how much I dislike sailing in the North Sea and always have.
As soon as we passed through the Dover Straits the sea changed colour and became extremely choppy, a very uncomfortable slamming choppy which is near impossible for the lads to drive through without shaking a few of those old fillings loose.
At times you wonder how the mast stays aloft – it’s not the wind strength but purely the boiling seaway - I think that the North Sea is best represented by any five year old’s picture of a ship at sea - where there are almost five waves per length of the vessel and each one shaped like a shark’s fin.
It was a tough night onboard Ericsson 4 as we made our way through the constant changing maze of ships and wind shifts (and did I mention the choppy waters?)
I think I have seen less tacks in the tightest of fought match races - rest was impossible.
For this whole race I have won Ericsson 4's highly coveted 'Golden Blanket' award - it hasn’t been the easiest of feats I can assure you - but dogged determination and perseverance has seen me fight off some very tough competition. This leg however I thought I would step aside and allow one of the other chaps onboard to live the glory.
So here I am with only three short naps under my belt over the last 30 hrs totalling no more than four hrs sleep and through no fault of my own I am still the leader in the sleep stakes. The rest of the lads are living off less than 2hrs rest for the same time period - such has been conditions for the last day or so.
It certainly has been the tough sprint we have all guessed it would be and there have been some really hard duels within the fleet and once again it’s an honour to be in the lead - but for how long who knows as the positions have been changing more than ever.
The boys were so busy this morning getting ready for our Rotterdam flyby that they couldn’t even get down for the sub-standard prison gruel (porridge) that I had prepared for them! They are however now tucking into a ‘wild game casserole’ for lunch - although the smell of cheese coming from the dish is a little worrying!
I was surprised to see just how many boats were out to watch our circuit off Holland this morning, I don’t know that I would have been out in the dreary cold and grey Tuesday morning that has been following us for the last day, given the choice. It was great to see the people waving and cheering and it was a nice break from the norm as we reached up and down the short 1.6 mile course - it was all over very quickly and there were three boats including us on the circuit at the same time. You could see the rest of the fleet like planes lining up to land at an airport – it’s surprising how close we all are to be honest - I have seen bigger margins in a one design fleet on a day race.
At present we are running with mastheads on in a .........choppy seaway ( surprise surprise) and are ticking the miles off. The boat has suddenly become very wet inside and so the usual squalor is back - the wet feet and the painstaking hours of trying to keep all electrical equipment dry. Trying to operate is tricky with the constant bouncing and jarring as we bounce over the waves – it’s almost worse that the sea is so short and sharp than the big rollers of past legs. Getting out of the wet weather gear to climb into the scratcher (bunk) is a long lost memory as sleep is far more important than a dry place to sleep - plus the fact that we are gybing our way up the coast - so being on call is critical.
I hope the dentists of Marstrand are ready - they may have 77 new customers looking for amalgam replacements!
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