This north-south leg from Sanya to the 'city of Sails' in Auckland has so far delivered everything you could hope for, and expect, from the toughest ocean race in the world. Life on board has been pretty much full-on since the start and I'm amazed at how the whole crew accept, handle and deal with every situation that is thrown at them.
This is my first ever experience of the Volvo Ocean Race from the inside. I've been following this offshore adventure for years and got to know quite a few of the sailors in my role as a sailing journalist based in Sweden.
It's extremely fascinating to see everything from this new perspective, though I have to admit that the few first days have passed with a blur. My mind has been so fully focused on the task as the Onboard Reporter that my body has suddenly refused to cope with the pretty harsh conditions in the South China Sea I spoke about in my last post...
Suddenly I found myself weak and dependent on the team who, despite the fact they had their hands full racing, covered my back. Now it's my turn to pay it forward and I guess this is the way a strong team is becoming consistently stronger. The more you give the more you get.
This is a message that is also championed by our biggest supporter, SCA, whose core company values are all about respect, excellence and responsibility, and you can see just how this mentality has permeated through the team:
To be respectful as a key member of Team SCA is to be open and honest, and to behave with integrity. With everything we do, we've got to consider how our individual actions will affect the rest of the team, making it easier to achieve out common goals, even if it is as simple as raising a sail.
To be excellent we must continue to learn from our mistakes and challenge ourselves to exceed the expectations that have been placed on us as the only all-female contingent in this edition of the race.
As the most successful female team in the race's history, we've also got the responsibility to stay confident and ready to accept whatever challenges are thrown at us. We must always perform our given tasks carefully and thoroughly with Team SCA's best interest in mind to ensure we are continuing to gain on our competitors.
With this in mind, we have just welcomed the fifth day of leg four with a sail change. Soon some of the girls will go to bed and others will be up on deck for another four hours racing, sticking to our strict shift pattern of four hours on, four hours off.
A few days ago the fleet split. The Dutch team Brunel choose the same more northerly route as us, longer in miles but faster due to the wind conditions. The rest of the fleet is on a more southerly route close to the Philippines.
It's a gamble and we will know in a few days from now whose cards were best played out. We have so far enjoyed ours reaching along keeping good average speed in the fresh breeze. After 60 hours beating the waves upwind it's a sweet reward.
We've got the wind in our sails and so far so good.
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