A tough start to the 30,000-mile round the world race saw CSM's yacht Spartan cross the line in last place, plagued with minor breakages. But CSM, an experienced sailor fresh from leading a crew of 18 in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, has since settled into life at sea, clawing back miles on the rest of the fleet to move into second position.
The Velux 5 Oceans might be the 33-year-old's venture into solo ocean racing but it's one he is embracing. 'It's fine, no problem at all,' CSM said. 'I'm making myself comfortable, there's of little housekeeping jobs I should be doing but I'm enjoying trimming the boat and also dealing with some of the mechanical issues I've had. I'm feeling very comfortable, very much at home.'
After 72 hours of racing, the enormity of what faces CSM is starting to sink in. The first ocean sprint from La Rochelle in France to Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the longest in the race. 'I think it is something when you step off Cape Finisterre and into the Atlantic you do start to realise 'wow, I've got a long way to go',' CSM said. 'Last time I did that it was just to Brazil, which felt a long way. This time I'm going to knock the corner at the edge of Brazil and then dive off towards Cape Town, which feels like a very long way away. This kind of stuff is all about taking each day at a time, each trip on deck at a time, each sail change at a time. Just deal with each individual step and in the end you'll be at the top of the mountain.'
And that's just what he's doing, having jumped from fifth to second thanks to a clever tactical manoeuvre that rewarded CSM with more wind than the rest of the skippers. The 12pm position report placed CSM within 60 miles of race leader Brad Van Liew, whose bright yellow Eco 60 yacht Le Pingouin CSM has nicknamed the 'Banana Boat'.
'I am actually feeling happy,' CSM added. 'It's one of those things where there is a big mix of emotions for the first couple of days. You've got to go through the process of tearing yourself away from all the things you are used to – your family, your friends, loved ones, home comforts. There is a change that occurs, certainly at an emotional level. That's a normal process for any kind of voyaging whether you are a blue water cruiser or merchant seaman or whoever. Departing the land is physical and emotional and I am very aware of that and I realise it is a natural part of leaving on a big journey. It certainly feels like I'm through that now and I'm enjoying the sailing and the racing. I've got the Banana Boat to catch so that's something to look forward to.'
Out in front is American ocean racer Brad Van Liew, who has been struggling with a cold and lack of sleep since starting the race on Sunday. 'It is definitely a bit strange, getting back in the groove after so long away from solo racing,' he said, 'but lots of work aboard keeps my mind off shore side life, and things will settle in soon. Looking forward to being more at home out here!'
Polish racer Gutek and Canadian Derek Hatfield have been pushing hard as the fleet move out of the Bay of Biscay and into the Atlantic. Lack of sleep is taking its toll on Derek, currently in fourth place. 'All is well aboard though I am frustrated with my position as you might expect,' he said. 'I have been unable to sleep since the start and it has affected my sailing and decision making. The light air is more frustrating than any other because you have to concentrate so much more.'
Belgian ocean racer Christophe Bullens is due to restart the race in the next couple of days after returning to La Rochelle to complete final preparations. Christophe had to sail a 48-hour qualification passage on his new Eco 60 Five Oceans of Smiles too after his previous yacht was dismasted en route to La Rochelle two weeks before the start of the race.