May 13, 2016 - equipment failure - close racing continues

The good news: Our boat handling and teamwork continues to be strong, keeping us in contention for the lead position. The bad news:  This morning at 4:30am, my watch was once again awakened early with a thundering thunk and the "all hands on deck" call.  Thoughts rushed through my mind as I donned my knee brace and listened for clues about what was going on. Was everyone ok? Anyone hurt? Did FrankenSnozzer succumb to the continuing high angle pressure and rip apart? Did something happen to the rigging? Turns out a line designed to hold the tack of the sail to the bowsprit tore due to wear and tear, and the sail had to be gathered in and taken down. As we would be needing it again shortly, the all hands approach continued as we quickly wooled and bagged it below decks. We lost our advantage over LMax who quickly passed us as the Yankee 1 and Staysail were hoisted. UNICEF caught up and it became neck and neck for second place as we got up to speed once more. The fun racing continues, but now it's on a 35-40 degree heel. A significant challenge for living below decks. Having the Y1 and SS put us on a slightly higher (more easterly) course to the gate, not a bad thing, since we need to make progress east towards Panama soon anyhow. We are pulling away from UNICEF once more, to the advantageous side of the course, hoping our good wind will hold. Meanwhile, we've decided to go into serious race mode until we cross through the first gate in about 200 miles.  This is a significant milestone, as the race director may decide to shorten the race, with final boat positions determined by the order of boats through the gate. This is making racing especially interesting, since each gate becomes a potential finish line (after the fact), impacting on course selection and race strategy. On our watch, three are sharing helming responsibilities, with Alex as our lead helmer. Han, co-watch leader with Alex, will also spend some time steering, as will Craig, a sailor from San Fransisco. The rest of us will take the same position in the pit or on the bow each time there is a sail change to maximize efficiency of maneuvers. And we always have 2 people grinding for frequent sail trim when a spinnaker is up. I'm glad that until now there had been lots of swapping of roles. Each person can step into almost any role or complete almost any task, stem to stern, in coordination with the other team members. Now, as we take on dedicated roles short term, we each have the bigger picture and we can coordinate our efforts effectively. There is great satisfaction in effective teamwork, and I am enjoying it immensely.