It’s so hot inside I’m sweating over the chart table. No more clean clothes, little freeze-dried food left. Only 30 minutes of sleep last night. And the nine of us, tucked in that boat together. The wind is too light, too strong, or in the wrong direction. You would be grumpy too if you were doing this for the sixth time, right?
Meet Andrew Cape, 51, the Australian navigator of Team Brunel. This will be Capey’s sixth participation in the race – he sailed with Telefónica last time – and his seventh lap round the world.
In the world of offshore sailing, everyone knows Capey is great at what he does. His experience is vast; he first took part in the race in 1993-94 and he’s seen all kinds of weather and situations. He is a pretty nice guy too, always quick to joke and share a laugh.
The affable Australian has a dark side though. He gets moody. He rants about things, decides he doesn’t want to speak anymore. He’s been through it so many times, he knows all about the irritating parts of sailing.
'There are a lot of things on these boats that aren’t quite right,' he says. 'And the temperature itself in the race is hard, we do a lot of equatorial sailing and that’s hot and sweaty. Being sweaty and covered in sun cream and having to do a lot of work physically on the boat isn’t much fun.
'The food isn’t great but the worst part is when there isn’t enough. Running out of food or knowing you’ll run out of food in x amount of time makes the crew immediately grumpy. You get a bit sick of it but the food itself tastes alright.'
So the boat isn’t comfortable, the temperature isn’t great and the food average. Then there is the physical training – the dreaded gym work most teams go through every morning when they are not at sea. Capey has his own view on this.
'The gym is tough. You’ve got to do it, you’ve got to keep strong and be as fit as you can. It’s just something you have to do to get ready for the race… But I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not good to train every day when you’re my age, so on the occasional day I take the one-hour sleep option instead of the gym, yes.'
It all sounds awful really. Capey starts smiling - and indeed, his grumpiness is a mask more than anything. 'Truth is, I do it because I enjoy it. If I didn’t have my heart in it, I wouldn’t do it. I do it because I enjoy the racing, the event, the people and the whole spirit of the race.'
What does he bring to the team then? His skipper and friend, the Dutch sailor Bouwe Bekking, has the answer. 'We’ve been around the globe together, so we know each other very well. Capey is not only a navigator but also a superb sailor with a sense of humour. His comments can make you laugh in the toughest situations.'
'Yes,' says Capey, 'I am proud of it. To get a small boat around the world is a mission and to have done it several times is a good thing. Other people climb mountains or do different things. My achievement is this race.'