Velux 5 Oceans: Alex Thomson climbs HUGO BOSS mast ready for the Southern Ocean

Thursday, 16 November 2006

The mast has been beckoning me for ages now, and finally there was no more avoiding it. So with a quick call to the shore crew, I strapped on my helmet, dug out the harness and faced the job I have been dreading. You might have noticed that I really was not looking forward to it and if I am honest I have been putting it off with the excuse that I did not want to slow or stop the boat to do it. Yesterday was really productive and I got loads of jobs done - got the keel sorted (I hope) and got the boat dry, but by the afternoon I had already started talking myself out of it again.

"The conditions just aren't stable enough to do it, and I have done enough jobs for the day" I told myself!

But eventually common sense won and I had to admit that the conditions were perfect, so I left the spinnaker set and went up. After all my procrastination, the climb was relatively painless and I was back down in just over an hour, with all jobs done, whilst managing to maintain a healthy 11 knots! I know that it was possibly not the best idea in the world to leave the chute up which meant being up the 28m mast with nearly 600 square metres of sail flying but hey, there's no way I could stop, not now, when there are gains to be made!!  Even though we were sailing downwind, there's been a large southern ocean swell which we continue to drive into, so it was pretty rough up there.  It was really good for me to do it, as I realised it wasn't as bad as I remembered, and actually, as far as climbing the mast at sea alone goes, that was the easiest assent I have done. 

It was great to have a sunny day yesterday and a dry boat too, although I suspect, or rather hope, there will not be many more of those between now and Freo.  Currently, I am still trying to skirt this high pressure but it is proving to be a pain in the prevobial! I'm pretty pleased as I made some really good progress last night, although it’s still very stop start, as it has been for the last couple of days.  I am conscious that I really need to get further south to get away from the high but it is not very easy as it means more miles away from the mark.  HUGO BOSS is currently on a starboard gybe heading south, and hopefully will get the new wind soon and then be able to rocket east.

Bernard is off like a robbers dog and well done to him. I always knew what an awesome sailor he was, but in this race so far, he really has held it all together and deserves his lead as far as I can see.  As for Golding and Koji, well we will just have to see, it all looks more positive for me, but until I find some proper breeze and they are out of the high pressure I am not counting on anything.  By the looks of it they will have to cross through the centre of the high and that will not be good for them, so keep your fingers crossed for all of us out here.  When this wind does come, the speeds will quickly rise, and we will have to push hard not to fall off the back of the system too early. I do like a bit of speed and I'm looking forward to a proper foam up I can tell you. 

Food-wise, it was a good day too - I found some eggs so I'm just boiling some up for lunch! Keep the emails coming and look out for the video of my mast climb which should be up on the website by Friday morning.

Time: 10.45 GMT
Wind: 13-14 knots NNW
Speed: 10-12 knots
Last meal: Can't remember but I'm looking forward to my eggs for lunch!
Tunes: iPod is on shuffle so not sure what’s coming next.
Alex Thomson

Velux 5 Oceans photos

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 November 2006 )