On 10 November I embarked on one of the most gruelling sporting challenges in the world today - the solo round-the-world race, the Vendée Globe. The race has always been won by a Frenchman, but this year I hope to become the first Briton to win on board the 60ft monochrome yacht; HUGO BOSS.
The race has already had it's ups and downs, just one week in I had to make an emergency repair to HUGO BOSS as the hydro generator broke, which damaged the starboard tie bar of the rudder. The bar is a very thin carbon tube about 3m long which was broken in two places, and we do not carry a spare. Cliff, the composite engineer for Alex Thomson Racing, is a genius problem solver and he came up with a plan which would splint the breaks using carbon strips. I firstly had to cut the strips with the grinder with a diamond cutting blade I have on board. I was not looking forward to doing it because literally everything would be covered in carbon dust. I cleared the cockpit and got to work all while averaging 19 knots of boat speed. I managed to do it without cutting a finger off or cutting through the cockpit floor. I did quite a good DIY job and everything with the boat is running smoothly again.
Before entering the South Atlantic, I also went through a tough time in the doldrums. The winds are so variable meaning it was impossible to sleep without heading in completely the wrong direction. During the night, we had clouds bringing gusts to 40 knots and afterwards virtually no wind, wind completely from behind and then up forwards, never staying the same for more than 10 minutes making sleep impossible. Being set for light winds with a code 0 set and then getting 40 knots of wind is terrifying as you hardly have the strength to roll it away and if it tears or breaks during the roll you know you will lose a lot of miles and expend all your energy.
It was a relief to have some stability after the doldrums, they left me feeling like I went 12 rounds with Wladimir Klitschko.
I have gone through big periods of having barely any sleep at all which just make everything a lot harder, I only sleep for 30 minute slots at time anyway. That being said, I managed to get quite a few naps last night when the wind was more stable and am feeling back to normal.
I have had some issues with the hydro charging today so I was working on that yesterday as well as some problems with the battery management system which is not alarming properly. So I spent all day yesterday in between clouds, on the phone with Rachel Howe, who is in charge of electronics on our team, trying to get to the bottom of the problem. She thinks we have solved it now, so fingers crossed, the hydro seems to be behaving itself again at the moment. I can see me having hydro issues all the way around the world, good thing we have a few spares on board!
So this morning I started in 3rd, however I have just moved up into 2nd place sitting just 166.6nm behind the leader, French sailor Armel Le Cléac'h. However at this point, I'm a little reluctant to get too excited as at this time it is ultimately a question of strategy. Jean Pierre Dick (skipper for Virbac Paprec) has opted to take a more southerly route and will get the new wind first when it comes in the next 24 hours. I will be one of the last to get the new wind so I have to hope I continue to have wind for today and hope they do not!
I will continue to blog each day, and upload videos updating everyone on my progress as I sail round the world.
You can watch my latest video update from the South Atlantic here: http://youtu.be/BaUT4cPSl1U
Or view a run down of the past two weeks on board HUGO BOSS here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaSIy3deLXU&feature=youtu.be
To find out more information on Alex Thomson, and his sponsor HUGO BOSS, visit www.alexthomsonracing.com