by Kenny Read (skipper)
Sorry I have been negligent on these emails from the boat. You would think that some day we would have nice ‘ocean passage sailing’ and, in a way, we had that opportunity. But, as always, here comes a competitor into our little space in the ocean, ready to do battle every second of the day when there could be some nice easy sailing time. It never fails in this race. There always seems to be a boat in sight. And we are in the middle of nowhere! How does this happen?
Ericsson 3 has been our companion for three days now. Two days ago they sailed into our world after we got out of a squall into some lighter air. We then started a 48-hour flat out drag race and slowly pulled out a very hard earned four-mile lead, only to have it evaporate late last night in one squall. We slowed to 11 knots, they came roaring up at 20 knots and it has been game on ever since. They get one, we get one. Just an hour ago they got one and have a few miles on us now. Hence the fact that I have started this note about five different times now only to hear a bit of commotion on deck and dash out to join the sail changing frenzy, which usually accompanies a squall. A couple of them have been pretty full-on as well. Lots of water, and a brief moment to grab the shampoo that lives in the cockpit, and get a quick bath in while careering across the Pacific at 23 knots. Pretty wild stuff when you think about it.
On board we officially celebrated Michi becoming a Dad and the equator crossing all in one shot. Michi became an official Dad in the middle of the night our time so we decided to wait until we could plan a full-on party. Out came the cigars that Jerry Kirby had stashed away and a bit of Rum and Coke that Justin had buried in the sail making kit (courtesy of our enterprising young sail makers Scoob and Tom back on shore who put the rum in a small bottle and labelled it ‘sewing machine oil’).
Michi immediately claimed that cigars were not a tradition in Germany but rum and coke may as well be and went that route. Jerry, Erle (Williams), Sid (Sidney Gavignet) and I went for the ciggy's. And it was Sid who provided the entertainment for the party by trying to inhale on his first puff (having never actually smoked a cigar before) and nearly coughed up a lung. Very entertaining all the way around.
If you think about it, that half hour on deck was the only time the entire crew may be on deck together baring a sail change or a serious situation. Never are we all on deck together just to hang out. It was pretty cool at the time and even cooler when I saw Ricky's video of it. Eleven guys enjoying each other and relaxing for a minute in the middle of a fairly high stress environment. All good.
The symbolic equator crossing was pretty uneventful as there were no first timers. A little rum for Neptune, a little splash for the boat, and a little sip for each of the crew. And in fact a northerner (Frenchman Sidney) passed the wheel over to a southerner (Kiwi Rob Salthouse) right as the numbers all went to zero.
So we are back at it again. Now in third place just behind our Ericsson 3 buddies, but have no fear. This race is just getting started.
Volvo Ocean Race