his is like match racing in the dark. Every six
hours someone turns the lights on and we get a quick look where
Swedish Match is. We see where they headed, how fast they were
going and how far away they are from us. Then we spend the next six
hours speculating where they're going now.
We talk about how they
must have tacked on that shift and how we need to cover. Someone
points out that there's better pressure where they are going, so
they can't have tacked. The conversation goes back and forth until
we get enough of a wind shift and we go across to "cover". Then,
after six hours, the lights come back on and we see them again. If
they are not straight behind us, we alter our course to get between
"the man and the hoop".
I get this honour of the daily reporter again because after the
last tack to cover our invisible opposition my bunk broke. So, I did
the smart thing and went into the nav station and told Rudi we
have to tack (we are only allowed to sleep on the windward side of
the boat and all the other bunks are full). His reply, "Don't worry.
The rest of the race is on port tack".
This, of course, is no help to me as my broken bunk is on the
starboard side and we are on starboard.
We've tacked back as we've got a wind shift. The lights have just
come on and it turns out that Swedish Match stayed on port. We now
have to sail fast and low to get across in front of them again. By
which time they may have tacked and gone the other way. This all
sounds very close, but Swedish Match is in fact 25 miles away and
21 miles further from La Rochelle than us.
You may be wondering why we are doing this and not trying to win
the 8th leg. We'd love to win the leg, but the points are such that
if we beat Swedish Match on this leg and Merit Cup does not come
first, then EF Language will win the Whitbread Round the World
Race (touch wood). That is the goal of our team and, like all the
teams in the race, the end of 18 months of hard work.
The last few days have been interesting as the fleet positions
have changed. We would have liked to have sailed a course more like
Merit Cup and stayed more to the north. That was, of course, until
yesterday when they came over to play with us and Swedish
Match. Merit Cup is 60 points behind Swedish Match with the two
legs left. Maybe they think if they can gain 30 this leg, then its
all on for the last leg. The best way to do that is, like we are,
stay between them and the finish line.
We have to take our hats off to Toshiba, who seem to have sailed a
perfect leg up until now. If there is any justice, they will pass
Silk Cut and win the leg. But with yacht racing that rarely happens
and EF Education will pass them both to win. That would be good for
the girls, who have worked hard for no result up until now. We keep
our fingers crossed.
My six hours off are up and I'm due on deck now with very little
sleep to show for it. That's the Whitbread though. Its all over in