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Race Report

Ericsson 4 Leg Five Day 24

Two sides of an ocean...
Yes, the Pacific is a big ocean and now we are starting to move along its bottom edge after what seems like an age at sea. The first three weeks have been largely southbound down the west edge of this huge wilderness. We have seen only a few islands, reefs and atolls (some more closely after the jaunt through Fiji), but largely it has been only Pacific, warm, blue sea.
That was then and now is different.
The other side is the where the Pacific meets the Southern Ocean.  This is a different place; it is cooler, greyer, windier and even the waves have a lumpier quality. Our progress south east is gathering pace and the weather has become more 'normal' after the set up at the scoring gate. Our friends on Ericsson 3 used this well to their advantage with a carefully thought out punt 'over the top'. This had been lurking as an option since Fiji but old school conservative thinking (south is good) rather tempered our risk assessment. This left us taking a loss, but at least we are in touch with our main rivals overall. Good to see the Ericsson 3 move, a lot more Arsenal than Chelsea so to speak.
After some less than comfortable upwind sailing into the sub tropical low we were treated with some good lightning and ramping head seas as the wind shift allowed us to sail east.
One 20 knot leap by the boat felt like we were fully airborne and after Horatio’s (Horatio Carabelli/BRA) checks of the keel rams, a few sheared bolts probably attest to the hull being clear of the water. I know that’s what my teeth felt like when we landed.
We have been lucky to reduce our deficit with Puma and saw them cross behind us 2 nm away this afternoon when the visibility lifted briefly from the murk and mist. I expect we will be close to them again before the second ice waypoint.
My mind goes back three years to the last race when I was on Pirates of the Caribbean and we ended up boat for boat with movistar approaching the second ice waypoint. This is an imaginary mark about as far away from land you can get on the planet, which we must pass on the correct side before we can head south to Cape Horn. It is to keep us clear of ice bergs.

Last time, we had the preposterous situation of two boats overlapped at the mark in the middle of nowhere with movistar choosing to gybe set and the Pirates straight setting spinnakers.

A few of the protagonists are the same. Again it is Capey (Andrew Cape – navigator) and I who are fretting about whether we have passed the point correctly. Watch leaders have swapped. Stu Bannatyne is with me this time (and I remind him that his gybe set resulted in a cross to Pirates by 12 miles a few hours later). Capey has the pleasure of the company of Erle Williams who no doubt will be regaling the Pumas with his tales – Erle’s ‘Continuing Adventures of Flyer’ from the old Whitbread days - Justin Ferris must know these off by heart by now.
It will be interesting to see how this duel in Ericsson 3's wake pans out in the next few grey days. It won't be simple and easy that is for sure.
Jules Salter - Navigator