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Vaikobi 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Vendée Globe Day 44 morning update: Pip and Aretha are in harmony on Medallia

by Vendée Globe 20 Dec 2020 23:05 PST 21 December 2020

This morning is an Aretha morning - she's been blasting out in my cabin and on deck and I have been singing along like a strangled cat but she doesn't seem to mind.

I've had an incredible couple of days run, Medallia has been on fire and has made a great job of sneaking along to the South of my competition and gaining some miles. I've been pushing hard, driven on my best tunes and I think it's impossible not to put your heart and soul into your work when backed up by Aretha.

It's been fast sailing and not without trauma. Every sail change I do seems to be either in the middle of the night or at dusk so I start without a head torch and end up fumbling round in the dark instead of just pausing and going and getting one. Last night I had to go out to the end of the bowsprit three times with various snags on the sail change. It's a crazy sensation going out there in the pitch dark. Because my head torch is illuminating the work in front of my face the rest of the world plunges into absolute blackness. The water beneath the spirit has no definition, it's just matt black, of course I can see the boat but looking backwards there is no definition between sea and sky it's like I am sailing in a black hole. My balance is terrible at the best of times but when the nights are like this and I no sense of the direction the boat is travelling or the approach of any waves then I stagger around on the foredeck like a drunk, really struggling to get from one spot to the next. I often resort to just crawling around on my knees and have nearly worn through one set of knee pads on my foulies.

Later today I will be gybing onto Stbd for the final run along the top of the ice limit and the passing of my second Cape Leeuwin tomorrow. I've been looking at the sea that has built up behind me and have some concerns over those first few hours on stbd. Three days ago gybing on to stbd brought me a whole world of leaks and pain. It was a low point for me as no one wants to watch their boat filling up with water. Since then I have been working pretty hard to address all those issues, the most notable of which was the forward ballast breathers which were back filling the tanks without me realising and causing Medallia to nose dive badly in the cross seas when on stbd, which in turn was diverting huge volumes of water into the cockpit and feeding the leaks. The breathers are now plugged and I've had 48 hours of wet sailing to test the fix - all seems to be good. The leaks I hope are filled and I've modified my conservatory slightly to try and keep the worst of the water out but I am still nervous about life after my gybe. The sea state is going to be horrible and it just makes everything hard.

So maybe Respect is the right song for the morning... although chain of fools is a little way down the playlist too.

Find out more...

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