So the finish line of Leg 1 is now less than 500 miles away, as the crow flies, and a tense couple of days lie ahead with an increasingly tightly bunched fleet and fickle winds forecast. Should this see us work our way up the leaderboard, it will prove that conditions like these reward skill, cunning and damned hard work. Should the opposite occur, it will simply show that ocean racing is little more than a meteorological-driven lottery.

In the meantime, let us reflect on the past month’s output from this keyboard. A lot has been written in GREAT Britain’s blogs and skipper reports about the crew members aboard. Much of this has been frivolous; a fair amount has been scandalous; some has probably been libellous.

Someone who has received somewhat less attention has been Our Dear Leader, skipper Andy Burns.

Put simply, Andy is an ordinary bloke from Skegness doing a quite extraordinary thing. He has been presented with a motley crew of amateurs, none of his choosing, with limited collective experience of messing about in boats let alone ocean racing, and is charged with leading us and keeping us safe as we race GREAT Britain across the world’s oceans.

We have a mix of skills amongst the crew and we do what we can. But, ultimately, Andy has to be a sailor, a leader, a teacher, a safety officer, a strategist, a tactician, a navigator, a meteorologist, an engineer, a plumber, an inventor, an IT geek, a diplomat, a therapist, a scribe and a friend.

He has to do all this for weeks on end on a sleep pattern that has no pattern and involves little sleep.

So the pressure and the reponsibilities on him are great, and he takes them very seriously. But with his near limitless patience and unique ability to create comedy from situations that, at first blush, have little funny about them, Andy appears to carry burden lightly.

And he does so whilst periodically wearing a latex dog mask.

So Andy, as a crew – those leggers for whom the adventure is about to end, and those for whom it continues – and at the risk of injecting a degree of sincerity unbecoming of the clowns around you, we salute you and we thank you. You are a legend. We have learnt a huge amount, and we’ve laughed a lot along the way. And ultimately, whatever the leaderboard looks like in a couple of days’ time, we will all have raced a 70 foot boat 6,500 miles from the UK to Uruguay. Not many people can claim that.

With respect, admiration, gratitude and affection in equal measure,

Union & Jack Watches combined.