Feb 1 2016 - They moved the goal post

Just when we were all getting excited about getting into DaNang early, they move the goal posts. Turns out we can't arrive before the 17th. So they have lengthened the race course. We will be looping south and then north through the South China Sea. The last couple of days have seen us sailing on a fast easy beam reach. The sea state is unlike anything I have seen before. Huge rolling/ cresting waves sway the boat off course, requiring strength and concentration on the helm. Crew are on deck and ready to help, but frankly there isn't much else to do once boat duties are completed (deck check, engine check, etc) but sit and chat or look in awe at the blanket of stars or dramatic cloud formations. We're seeing the sun again, but it's a constant battle against dampness due to waves crashing over the bow that drench us from time to time. Prickly heat rash has raised its ugly head and the crew community ointment jar is being quickly depleted. Fortunately, the weather is getting a little cooler, making it easier to get some sleep. When we can have the hatches open! Still, we are tired and the news of the course change was hard to take for many of us. Myself, I signed up for a month-long at sea experience, so I'm not unhappy about the change. It would have been better if we had been told from the get go that they would alter the race course if needed such that no boat would be arriving in DaNang before the 17th.
So, for our team, energy conservation is the name of the game. With a few of the Worlders leaving after leg 4 - it happens - we are the smallest crew in the fleet with 14 plus skipper. We have been dealing with crew down at various times with minor injuries, fever, and general malaise (stomach upset and dehydration). The team pulls together and the back-up rotation of duties planned in advance is working well. But it means that we can't pull off some of the go fast techniques that other boats with more crew can do. We are sailing a more conservative northerly course to gain optimum velocity made good to the destination without putting up the spinnaker.  That's because the wind angle would be quite tight for the spinnaker and we don't have the hands needed to manage a problem with the spinnaker should one occur.
We are content to be staying with the lead pack and are hoping that our angle of approach to the weigh point will set us up nicely for easier and fast downwind sailing with the spinnaker once we round it. That's at the Luzon Straight at the top of the Philippines. Can we gain points by being the fastest through the Ocean Sprint?