We just saw a rock, called St Pierre, with a lighthouse on it. It’s a rock you have probably never heard about, yet it is there. It must be a hell of a stalactite shape to come all the way up from 4,000 metres deep to the surface of the Atlantic.
Next to it, MAPFRE is four miles back, showing their green bow light; good news, you can already feel that the atmosphere on board Dongfeng is more relaxed – we know we can manage the fleet when it comes to it.
I’m starting to wonder if Pascal is a vampire. He never eats, never sleeps, if he goes out he comes back in very quickly and makes sure I have taken a picture of him, probably to prove that he is not one of his kind. Nobody bled so far, so we’re good for now. Here…I’ll make him another coffee. He’s writing emails, while he talks to the deck every now and then.
There is a system called the Intercom: the navigator (Pascal) can talk to the helm upstairs who can then reply as there is a waterproof mic attached to it. So basically there’s a discussion going on all day between the “nav” and the crew to make the boat go faster.
Now when the fleet approaches and gets closer to us, the navigator gets all this live data (speed, true wind angle, bearing angle and so on) and he can check their “modes”, understand which sails they are using and watch them through the binoculars. Since all the boats are the same, if you’re going slower in exactly the same conditions you’re clearly doing something wrong.
Then the game starts: try a new sail, a crossover that could be slightly better, stack your equipment and sails differently, deploy an outrigger, move your people and sometimes…do nothing but drive properly at the right bearing angle.
“We’re under attack!” yells Stu from the deck, five cargo ships are surrounding us, the sun is about to come out and we will cross the Equator in a couple of hours.