Jangling nerves in battle to beat headwinds

Grant Dalton, skipper of Club Med, leads The Race by 1,000 miles but is taking no chances going into final stage

Nest stop: the equator, except we hope it will not mean being slowed by Doldrum light winds. The Race was meant to be a non-stop event and we are one of only two of the original six starters that have not stopped so far.

Nest stop: the equator, except we hope it will not mean being slowed by Doldrum light winds. The Race was meant to be a non-stop event and we are one of only two of the original six starters that have not stopped so far.

It is good to see that Cam Lewis is racing again but, after a second repair pit-stop in Wellington to fix the main cross beam, he has also seen his crew reduced to nine. It seems ages since we went through the Cook Straits and it is hard to believe that he still has 4,000 miles to go before rounding Cape Horn.

We also hear that Tony Bullimore has stopped again. He is in worse straits with his crew, as three are leaving. The two Frenchmen, Armand Coursodon and Olivier Cusin, are suffering from back injuries and an infection following a bang to the mouth and a chipped tooth. Rob Salvidge has said he is leaving for "personal medical reasons" but my guess is that he has had enough.

That leaves only seven to race Team Legato, but, then, there were only seven aboard when, as Enza, and in the hands of Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston, she set a new Jules Verne world record time for sailing round the world.

One of the crew then was Ed Danby and he is with us as we sail up the last of the South American coast and back into the northern hemisphere. It seems amazing that it is less than 50 days since we were going the other way and we are already north of the point where Steve Fossett decided to call it a day in PlayStation.

Not that it is yet easy. The last four days have been horrible, 36 hours of them sheer hell as we battled through gale-force headwinds. These boats are great when reaching and running off the wind. But 109 feet of catamaran beating into a gale of headwind is not a happy affair and, in that respect, this has been the worst part of the trip. We always knew it could be and it means your nerves are on edge all the time. We have been very careful in preparing the boat to be strong enough but you feel every bang and the nerves are jangling when you hear a creak and think to yourself: "That's a new one, where did that come from?"

We have some more of that to come when we go through the trade winds north of the equator, but, with less than 4,000 miles to the finish in Marseilles, we also know we are entering the last stage.

Club Med has done over 20,000 miles and the most serious injury we have had is one twisted ankle. Our only physical problem has been weight loss. You always lose weight in the first 10 days and then, as the rhythm settles, you start wanting to eat more and more. Every stray crumb is pounced on as we eat everything in each day's ration. It would be nice to have some more, and the taste explosion of something as simple as a stick of chewing gum the other day was amazing in its intensity.

Still, we are stretching our lead out to 1,000 miles again over Loick Peyron in Innovation Explorer and we know the slipway to the motorway home is not far away. But we want as big a lead as possible as we do not want to have to push too hard over the final miles. You do not set fastest lap time voluntarily at the end of a grand prix. Anything can happen and we want as big a cushion as possible. The opera isn't over until the fat lady sings, and she is not even in the car yet.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?