Sailing: Thirsty work as we head for Doldrums

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The Independent Online

We have reached the eastern point of Brazil and are about to turn left and head towards America. We are lying third, with Tyco in the lead some seven miles ahead and Illbruck just one mile away. So far the three of us have hardly been out of sight of each other for the 1,200 or so miles from the start. Our group has broken away from the pack behind and put a small, but significant gap between us. The last few days saw the lead change a few times but in all we wore the yellow jersey the most. However all changed yesterday morning when the wind came to an abrupt halt and Tyco sailed on, leaving Illbruck and ourselves behind.

We have reached the eastern point of Brazil and are about to turn left and head towards America. We are lying third, with Tyco in the lead some seven miles ahead and Illbruck just one mile away. So far the three of us have hardly been out of sight of each other for the 1,200 or so miles from the start. Our group has broken away from the pack behind and put a small, but significant gap between us. The last few days saw the lead change a few times but in all we wore the yellow jersey the most. However all changed yesterday morning when the wind came to an abrupt halt and Tyco sailed on, leaving Illbruck and ourselves behind.

We now have what is probably the most crucial and difficult portion of this leg – the approach and passing of the Doldrums. There is little or no windand it is a generally a confused and unpleasant seaway. Whoever comes out here the best will be at a clear advantage.

It has been pretty hot and uncomfortable so far but the next four or more days are going to be even worse. We are aware of the problems associated with dehydration in the conditions we are encountering and are taking the appropriate intake.

We have been advised to drink at least eight litres every day and we also each take 20 pills a day – vitamins and yet more minerals. They appear to be working well and we all feel in good shape despite the draining heat. One sail change leaves everyone absolutely soaked in sweat and gasping for a drink. So far we have worn nothing but shorts and a smelly T-shirt. None of us have even taken our foul weather gear off the rack and the rain is the nearest we have got to having a wash for a few weeks now.

So far we have been pleased with the changes we made in Rio with the boat going better than ever during this leg. What we have seen of our new sails has been pleasing and feel they could come into their own even more later on during the leg.

There are over 3,000 miles to go so there's plenty of time for more place changes, but we just have to make sure we go forward in the fleet.

Just an aside , but I've just happened to see the ship's log of the distance travelled during this race – 27,000 miles – which, coupled with my trip round the planet last year, adds up to over 60,000 miles sailing in just over 15 months. That's probably further than I have ever been in a car – there seems something odd about that.

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