The hole truth, and nothing but a big black hole

For me doing this event is normally a total delight – however, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week were more like a nightmare.

For me doing this event is normally a total delight – however, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week were more like a nightmare.

For 24 hours I was either up on deck mad with frustration trying to make 15 tonnes of yacht move in no wind whatsoever, or I was down below unable to sleep listening to the sails sloshing from side to side – a tell-tale sign of no wind and no boat-speed.

Having rounded Trindade Island (our last turning mark before Cape Town) we elected to turn east to try to get the best weather to get on our way across the Southern Atlantic. Very shortly afterwards, Mother Nature dealt us the cruellest hand she could – we ran into a huge hole with absolutely no wind at all.

None of our weather forecasts suggested that this would be there, and sadly once we were in it we simply did not have the speed to get out of it. We were out of sight of the other yachts, so until the next position report came in the real horror of what had happened was not clear.

When it did become apparent we just could not believe it – the four boats around us appeared to have escaped the no-go zone and were belting off to Cape Town at about 10 knots – leaving us with the awful truth of the loss of around 50 miles every painful six-hour position report.

The crew were completely devastated – all of our hard work (and we put a lot in) over the last three weeks was being whisked away – every boat length we had fought so desperately for was evaporating by the minute.

We went round the island in what we saw at the time as a safe second place – and now we are fifth, nearly 300 miles behind the leaders.

Normally we can make some form of joke or muster up a smile about most problems on board – but not this time. This has just pissed everyone off – there is no one to blame, and equally there is no point in crying over spilt milk, but there is no getting away from the fact that this is a very, very low point in the race for me.

Most adverse situations in yachting are mentally easier to deal with – an unpredicted storm, broken equipment or an unfavourable wind shift – but running into a hole such as this is about as bad as it gets.

It's very hard to think of an analogy for this sort of happening in other sports – a mast falling down could be likened to a wheel falling off in a Formula One car race for example, but sitting in a hole in the weather for a day while everyone else around you shoots off into the distance is a hard feeling to explain.

Despite having a reasonable breeze, we are still making slow losses to the leaders. We have some 2,000 miles to go to Cape Town, though, and the long-term forecast is complicated, indicating slow spots for the leaders – and therefore possibilities for us to catch up.

So all we can do from here is knuckle down and look for any opportunities. Our sense of humour has slowly returned – helped by the ETA betting chart put together by Magnus Olsson (one of our helmsmen) which has taken our mind off our ever-increasing hunger – one more day of no progress has meant more food rationing.

It is the policy of the boat not to have any personal contact with the outside world, so I have had no news from my wife, Lisa, who is skippering Amer Sports Too, other than the position reports, but it looks like the girls are battling it out well with djuice and SEB – I just hope they don't have any of the frustrations that we have just gone through.

Yacht racing is strange; very rarely do you ever hear me say that it's anything other than the best sport in the world, butI have to admit this week I've been thinking about taking up golf!

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
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

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain