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hand to hand combat

Phil Sharp brings his office to yours!
“Who would have thought that 3,000 miles into this epic double-handed race to Brazil, we would have such a close fight on our hands.
“Our race through the tropics this week so far couldn’t have been more of a contrast to our windy, wet, and fast assault down the North Atlantic.
“Over the last few days we have been sailing in the sort of conditions you dream about for an ocean escape: 15 knots, downwind, spinnaker up, t-shirt sailing – but sadly this is no longer the case. Since entering the dreaded doldrums we have been in horrendously fickle wind. Trickling further south, we’ve had average speeds of around 2 knots. As Pablo said today: It is like we have been cast adrift into the middle of the ocean!
“To make such painfully slow progress even more agonising, the boats to the east of us are going faster and catching up as I write this. They are benefitting from more breeze, contrary to the general rule that west gives more consistent winds. In general the forecasts break down quite heavily when you get to the doldrums and to a certain extent “you get what you get”. There is always this element of chance with this notorious crossing, and the luck factor I think is our biggest enemy right now. It feels we are at the mercy of the weather gods and I hope they turn in our favour soon!
“Although the sailing has been fatiguing, life on board Imerys Clean Energy is becoming more and more like home every day! Down below in this climate however, the boat is literally an oven during the day. If you don’t go on deck to find some cooler air then you would probably literally start roasting.
“We’ve seen some amazing life around the boat so far. Mostly the flying fish – big shoals of them suddenly launching themselves into the air at unbelievable speeds. Pablo has advised against wearing my head-torch too much at night as he says that they like to fly towards light, having once been smacked in the face. I found this somewhat amusing and difficult to believe, until last night. I was standing on deck looking at the sails, when a fish crashed headlong straight into my stomach! He flapped around on deck before I managed to get him back in the water – rather than into my cooking stove.
“There has been a lot of weed around lately which means that we have to clean the rudders constantly otherwise this affects our speed. We also fished out some plastic wrapped around a rudder yesterday – not a pleasant sight, and something that is unfortunately not infrequent. This is, I guess amongst only the 1% of plastic that we can account for through surface measurements. The other 99% being beneath our oceans and in the food chain – I am glad to hear that it’s finally hitting the news.
“On a positive note though, we have just had a very special visit from two Dorados that were swimming alongside Imerys Clean Energy for quite some time, perhaps using the boat to get some much needed shade! With their purple fins and bright yellow tails they have to be the most beautiful fish, but to see them up close in their environment is a reminder of how lucky we are to be out here – even if we are madly trying to get to that finish line first! – Phil”
Track ’em!