Day 18 - counting down the miles

March, 9th

All remains similar this morning as we continue down the Tasman Sea 200 miles west of Norfolk Island. The miles seem to be ticking down slower despite maintaining good boat speed. They always do at this stage of a leg. Really the only thing that has changed is a little shuffle in order. Unfortunately for us, we have been excluded in the shuffle… only for now at least we hope. Puma had a tough night and has swapped positions with Telefonica who continue to prove what a slippery boat they are, just fast, seeming to make miles so easily.

Weather is still not entirely clear on what it will be as we sail down to Auckland. It would be nice if we had conditions like we did last time we sailed from the Three Kings Islands which are 34 miles north of Cape Reinga to Auckland in just over 12 hours of downwind blasting.
Quiz Question: “How many islands make up the Three Kings Islands”

Right now though, we are making our best possible progress through what effectively is an 80-mile light air sand bunker. Telefonica and Puma were in it at last sked so we made good gains on them, our hope is we can pass through it that much better being further west than them. These sorts of light air areas take no consideration for what has happened in the rest of the leg. If you escape its clutches better than the other boats you will be looking good for the final 400 miles until the top of New Zealand. Then the 200 miles from there to Auckland, well that can throw up any tricks so we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
Right now we are crawling at about 8 knots and it is definitely not nice, oh for just a few more knots!

Generally the guys are well rested and in not too bad shape. Although in some cases long term fatigue is apparent. Mike, while attempting to make a protein shake just filled his entire drink bottle up with protein powder without thinking. I think his thoughts were still poolside with Justin Timberlake. At least it hasn’t been affecting the way he sails.

The main thing I am looking forward to when we reach Auckland is shaving the horrible hair off my face. Each time I move my mouth it feels like my face is crawling with bugs. Will Oxley succumbed to his facial fluff and shaved it off this morning in what is a pretty long and perilous exercise. He only managed to nick his face once, despite going through three razors.

For now- its tense, its quiet and its focused onboard ready to make the most of any small opportunities left in this race, however close to the finish line in downtown Auckland we maybe.
I cant wait to see the sky tower.

GOLDEN QUOTES: “Currently we are transitioning across a light section trying to break out of the NE trades and into the newly established SE breeze. Puma have had a lot of leverage over us but it seems that it has been difficult for them to convert that into miles. Hopefully we will be within sight of each other once we get into new breeze, then its game on. “

Day 17 - closing in

March, 9th