Leg 4 ,race 5

On a typical Perth summer day we slipped lines at1 pm along with Punta and UNICEF for our race start 2 days after the rest of the fleet.The Fremantle doctor was blowing and was at 20 knots plus when we got to the start area .After the MOB drills we hoisted both headsails as we approached the start but with 1 reef in the main. . Just behind UNICEF at the start. Punta were initially catching us but we pulled away after shaking out the reef. , As we approached the first mark we re set the first reef in the main. As we hardened up on the breeze we passed the mark well clear of both yachts. We continued to gradually edge ahead as we tacked down the WA coast.
Xmas Eve treated us a spectacular night sky.Southern Cross and milky way to port and Orion to Starboard. With the wind gradually dropping we shook out the reef.
We sailed south parallel to the coast and parallel to Punta who were a little further out to sea.
My new watch seems blessed at this point with people who can steer with all but one helming during the shift.
Being on support next we prepared a meal of salad plus a choice of prawn ,salmon or ham plus half a mango .Guess we won’t have fresh food for too long.

Punta behind
Race start UNICEF and Punta behind

Xmas Day

Xmas certainly an interesting day bashing upwind in 25 to 35 knots, 1 reef in main and staysail. Just not pleasant sailing. We are a few miles ahead of Punta and well ahead of Unicef. At one point our yankee which is on the deck is trying to blow away. I manage to go to the bow and get it down and put the outhaul on to hold it but doing anything else is impossible in the upwind conditions . Shortly after it blows over the side. We bear away to flatten the boat and Chris Bruce and I get it tied down. We unfortunately lose significant ground while doing so. That evening the wind reduces and we put up the yankee 2 and finally at the end of our watch shake out the reef in the main.

Boxing Day

Just a pleasant days sailing . Warmish temperatures so attire is shorts and jacket rather than foulies. Overnight the yankee 1 had been hoisted in place of the 2. 9 to 15 knots initially hard on the breeze to maintain a course to the scoring gate.The breeze comes around during our watch enough to rig spinnaker sheets and set foreguys.
Down on support we cook beef casserole and rice which is a hit but go up on Deck at end of watch to hoist the code 3. The heat from downstairs is enough that I go up bare chested under the life jacket so I can cool down. Punta had made significant ground but now we are going along a little faster .
27 December
En route to scoring gate under code 3 in 17 to 22 knots. Seas were slowly building b it at this point yacht was handling well. Punta has made ground and is just ahead and to leeward. .We have a secret Santa on board and as I am at the helm ,I get the last Prize which is a floating key ring Holder.
We make some gains on Punta during the watch but not enough and on the following watch they cross the gate ahead . Still we are both quicker than the yachts ahead. So we will get 2 points from it.
That night I awake to a commotion shortly before our watch.The spinnaker has been dropped and is in the corridor being folded . The starboard steering gear has broken and being repaired. During all this I feel a change in the boats motion that indicates we have crash gybed. With boat headless and the foreguys pinned on the shrouds it is a process to gybe back on course.
On watch change we hoist the yankee 2 . I take over the wheel from Jorge . His words are it is tricky it is easy to bear away and crash gybe. And tricky it was ; a dark night with no stars and a confused sea state make it hard to keep on course. I soon find our watch has only 2 helms that can handle the conditions.

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