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Thomson happy with Hugo Boss' progress

'Dawn on Hugo Boss - Barcelona World Race©'    Barcelona World Race ©
It's been a fruitful weekend onboard HUGO BOSS. We have been able to reduce the deficit to the leader, Paprec Virbac, by 100Nm. Not only this but it is also finally beginning to warm up, as we head north towards the Australian safety gate. The sea temperature is up to around 6 degrees and this morning we had some blue sky and bright sunshine, the first for what seems like weeks!

To be honest though, it probably has been at least a week since we have seen some sun. We have had some bad news, as it looks like our heater issue is terminal despite the best efforts of our mate Toby from Keto Ltd. It would seem that the glow plug has stopped working and without the 600C temperature that it produces, the fuel will not ignite. Capey has yet to put his mind to it so I remain ever hopeful that heat will return. In the meantime, we will consider the saved fuel as a reserve.

We moved into second place by default at the end of last week; due to a failed engine onboard Veolia Environnement that forced it to stop at the Kerguelen islands. It has cost them about 800Nm, but I am pleased that my old friend Bilou is back in the race (update: Veoila Environment has since been dismasted).

Meanwhile, onboard HUGO BOSS we have been making great speed, however it has not been without cost. Downtime when the speeds are good can be very expensive in terms on losing distance to the other competitors and must be avoided at all costs. A few days ago I noticed that our working jib, which we call the J2 (our second biggest headsail), had a tear two thirds of the way up it. This jib is permanently fixed to the forstay on a roller furler. We had lashed the sail at the top and bottom as it does not usually need to come down, however now that it did I had to take a trip up the mast. Six hours later and after lots of stress, Capey and I had taken it down and replaced it with the spare. We had spent a long time debating whether or not to bring a spare, and all I can say is that we are pretty happy we did! We will now repair it to be ready for action, should it be needed again.

We managed some R&R at the end of last week but with the arrival of lighter winds and the need to sail with a spinnaker we were back to the two hours on, two hours off watch system. Having taken six hours to fix the J2, and made a couple of sail changes we were both pretty starved of sleep, so we are now concentrating on keeping ourselves in good nick for the days to come. Once we reach the next safety gate we will hopefully gybe and head south again, while we work out the best route up to New Zealand. We are almost level with Perth now, and it makes me feel like we have come a long way; but we are only about halfway through!

Time: 12:00 GMT
Latitude: 49 19.34' S
Longitude: 99 47.49' E
Position: Second
Average speed: 17.6 knots

by Alex Thomson onboard Hugo Boss


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8:44 PM Tue 18 Dec 2007 GMT

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