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Ericsson 4 Leg Five Day 29

People say that everyday you should learn and experience something new to keep life exciting and fresh - 'a first' if you like.  Well, today I definitely had such an experience due to the conditions we are having out here on Ericsson 4. But surprisingly enough it had nothing to do with the light air ridge that is halting us all towards the front of the pack, the ridge which has made Ericsson 3 sail a more northerly route to trade their large lead into a smaller one but to get on the same piece of ocean as ourselves and Puma.

This ridge will certainly be giving the Nordics neck ache as they keep looking over their shoulder.  Their brave and successful move could end fruitless if they don’t get to the wind first.  All of the first three boats are just lining up for a speed test off the coast of Chile.  We have had - at times - as little as 2 knots of wind and down at 48 south! Very surprising and not exactly the picture in the mind when the mighty southern ocean is talked about. The roaring forties?

The code zero has been up for a fair few hours which for our code zero is definitely borrowed time due to a huge area of delamination.  We did not expect to see this sail again until a few days out of Rio!

The boys have worked hard in staking the boat for no wind - then restacking the boat for 10kts as the occasional puff comes in, before moving it all back once more as the breeze drops once more.

The day was mainly sunny and I can feel a little burn on the face.  It’s amazing as it was very cold today, but the strength of the sun in the southern hemisphere is very strong.  This made for a great drying day as we opened hatches and let the condensation disappear. The one casualty was Tony’s (Tony Mutter/NZL) water proof balaclava which was drying happily on deck one moment and had vanished the next - no one is sure if someone is playing a cruel trick on him.

We had a couple of fly-bys by an albatross today and with this little wind its flight didn’t look as effortless as it usually does – it’s very rare to see an albatross flap its wings!

We have also got a graffiti artist amongst the crew and no guessing on the nationality as pictures of Rio's Christ statue or the Sugarloaf Mountain spring up on various instructional posters.

Once through this ridge the weather changes quickly as we all aim to catch the ride on a low and fly down the coast to the scoring gate and the legend which is Cape Horn. But none of this was the new life changing experience for me today; it was actually to witness a conversation that I would never have expected to hear in all of my days! It was a conversation which is more suited to the pages of a woman's magazine, or a beauty parlour. The conversation revolved around some skin cream which a few of the lads use onboard to stop their hands cracking, as they get wet and then dry very quickly out here.  Nothing untoward there I hear you say. 

In these days of equality and metro-sexuality this conversation would not normally raise an eyebrow - the reason it did was down to the members in the conversation which was from two of the people who are as far away from their feminine side as we are from the sun.

Brad (Brad Jackson/NZL) and Blood (Phil Jameson/NZL) were discussing the merits of one brand of hand cream versus another, as if they were old hands at the topic (no pun intended). It was almost as if they were testing samples in an airport duty free, assessing the smell, texture and the fluidity at colder temperatures. Again, no big deal, but I’m sure those who know them well will definitely see the funny side and be as surprised as I. It’s just a shame that I didn’t get it on film.  As I began to reach for the camera I got 'the look' - as if I were a gun slinger up against the best in an old Wild West town.

Guy Salter – Media Crew Member