Baptism of fire as Clipper crew gets to grips with 45° sailing from Rio

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Since leaving Rio, our decision to head south first in search of better wind meant that the first few days were spent beating or heading into the wind.

This creates some discomfort for the crew as life on board is at a 45 degree angle. You can only imagine the practicalities of trying to cook for crew in these conditions!

It was also a baptism of fire for the seven crew members who joined us in Rio. Suddenly the blue skies and sandy beaches of Rio were a distant memory and crew had to adjust to the daily routine of life on board a racing yacht.

The initial leadership board showed us at the back of the pack but, as it is calculated on DTF (distance to finish), that was no surprise. The tactical decision was to seek better wind conditions further south and catch the westerlies winds across to Cape Town. We were making excellent progress with this strategy and overnight shot to no 1 in the leader board. The moment was fleeting as the wind dropped and the following day we were relegated to the back of the fleet again.

The crew took this on the chin and kept up morale by holding a fancy dress party. This comprised of many creative costumes thrown together from what little props the crew could find and the outcome was an eclectic mix which varied from a goat herder to a pint to Guinness to crocodile Dundee - it had to be seen to be believed.

I decided to change course and again head south. Around this time we caught sight of Great Britain off our port (left hand side) and it was obvious they were heading even further south. This was the first of our fleet we had seen basically since leaving Rio.

The last couple of days, we are flying along with our spinnaker (large sail) up and the crew have been logging their individual fastest speeds on the helm. This sail plan can make night helming very tricky especially when there is no moon/stars to help steer. Weather is also considerably colder now that we are officially in the southern ocean.

The strategy is paying off as we are making good inroads on the fleet. We are now heading to the start of the sprint race - fastest boat time through the course picks up two bonus points, winner takes it all. We will certainly be giving it our best endeavours. Game on.