This is a tough leg, for sure. It is so complex. All aspects of yacht racing play a big part and if one doesn't flow, it drags other parts down with it. It's about endurance, both physically and psychologically, about routines with food, sleep and hygiene and above all it's about the knowledge of sailing. How much you can push your crew and the boat. Also of course, skills in strategy, weather and navigation plays a huge part.
We have been doing well so far and are very happy to be where we are. At first we were not sure if we would manage to get to the start, but we put all the effort we could in making the boat ready to go, we sailed it shorthanded to China and started seven hours after the signal. And now, here we are working our guts out not to lose the lead we have been working so hard to get.
Our navigator's choice to go north and catch on to a low pressure after the first scoring-gate paid off and today we passed the ice-gate a couple of hours before the second and third boat. Unfortunately being first to this gate doesn't give us any points and from here to the scoring-gate at Cape Horn it seems to be a bit of a restart.
We wished we would be able to hang on to the low a bit longer and catch a weather system the others would not be able to reach. Being in another system is probably the only way to get a secure lead, if you are in the same system you can quickly loose a couple of hundred miles. Depressing for the one in the lead but fun and exciting for the ones following the race and a hint of hope for the ones trying to make gains from the back of the fleet. Unfortunately we dropped out of the low and lost a lot of pace so the others have been able to make depressingly big gains on us.
Today we have been in what every sailor would call a "shit fight". We have constantly been sailing in less breeze than the others and right after the ice-gate we stopped completely for a while. Loosing up to 50 miles in one sched is not fun.
Here is when the psyche kicks in. We are all pretty bruised, battered and tired after 26 days of racing, 29 days if you count from Taiwan. We also have some flu going on, which can really bring the performance down. The more tired you get, the easier it is to make mistakes and the more mistakes you make the more you lose and the mood onboard gets bad.
So far we are doing good. We are hanging on to the "Ericsson 3-spirit" and get up after each punch. But as the days get colder and our opponents get closer, everything will get harder.
This leg is a tough one, for sure.