Finally we rounded the famous corner of South America and were able to celebrate the change from one sea to another with lots of chocolate. There was a breeze in the air so it was a bit of a messy party, but still a very special one to share with the rest of the girls.
After more than 20 days out at sea, most of which was during rough Southern Ocean conditions, we are all looking forward to stepping on dry land again. It's been a long and eventful journey from Auckland to Itajai, but we are now just hours from finishing leg five in the Volvo Ocean Race.
From one great adventure after another in one of the most remote places on earth, leg five has been hard work from day one. While it's been tough, it's also been incredibly rewarding - especially when it boils down to team achievement.
Our main objective was to make it to Brazil in one piece and to finish without any damage to the boat, or more importantly, to anyone on board. We knew it was going to be a challenge to keep up with the rest of the fleet, but we wanted to give that our best shot too.
We managed to stay with the group in the beginning, but then had our big crash. It was during this that we broke the important sail that makes it easier to sail in difficult conditions, and is the one that you really want to have in the Southern Ocean. It felt like driving down the motorway and suddenly losing 5th gear, not very nice and a bit of a shock to the system. The leaders then got ahead and were able to hang on to the front of a weather system that overtook us. They got some perfect sailing conditions meanwhile it became really tricky for us.
I think we certainly proved ourselves in the first part of this leg, so it was even more frustrating to see the leaders sail away into the distance. We know we can do it, but this experience is all part of our learning process.
I was sat speaking with our skipper, Sam Davies, about her previous experiences in the Southern Ocean and how leg five compared. For her, leg five has certainly been the hardest in terms of sailing. Our Volvo 65 racing boats are pretty powerful but difficult to control in a tricky sea state, so we really pushed ourselves to the limit to battle with the weather conditions.
This also resulted in some additional responsibility for Sam, who needed to make some tough decisions to avoid any potential dangers. While this has meant that we haven't been as fast as some of the other teams, we have made it around Cape Horn to the finish line, which is an achievement in itself.
The race result may not have been what we hoped for, but nearing the finish line has given us all a bit of perspective. For instance, it's great to think about all we have accomplished and learnt during this very challenging leg, which is only going to make us stronger as a team and more competitive in the next couple of races.
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