Sunday, 15 March 2009

VOR: ERICSSON 3 Leg Five Day 29 QFB: received 14.03.09 0831 GMT

Flat water sailing in the Southern Ocean, on board Ericsson 3, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gustav Morin

There is a big low pressure coming in and we are now in what we probably can consider as the calm before the storm. Today has been a beautiful day with around ten degrees in both air and water, and between five to ten knots of breeze. It was not really what I expected from this part of the world, but I guess we have not seen it all yet.

In a day or so we, for the second time on this leg, will aim straight into a big low pressure with up to 50 knots of wind. We will try to stay very close to the middle, in the 30-knot area. If you get too close to the middle you get stuck in no wind and big waves that come from all directions. And if you go too far north you will get hit by a lot more wind than you need.

Unfortunately, it seems like the boats behind us will get a more favourable path into and through the low, and it can be really tight around the Cape Horn.

Right now we are going really slow and Aksel (Aksel Magdahl/NOR) anticipated a couple of hours ago that we may loose 100 miles of our 150 mile lead in the next coming 12 hours.

In this moment, one option is to go close to the coast of Chile before rounding the Horn. Aksel says it's a tricky area weather wise, Magnus (Magnus Olsson/SWE) agrees, but is even so excited, "That is probably the worlds most beautiful coast line. Really one of the nicest places on earth. But I guess we don't have energy to even reflect on it when we get there."

Magnus has a lot of memories about Cape Horn roundings. Today in the sunshine on deck we got to hear about one of them. It was when he was sailing to the South Pole with an explorer boat. “We had a really nice, clear and almost warm day when we came back to the Horn. It was 13 degrees in the water and no wind. One of the guys suggested that we should go for a swim. Of course we all agreed”... I guess there are not many who have been swimming in the Southern Ocean looking at Cape Horn.

Magnus Woxen and Martin Stromberg changing sails onboard Ericsson 3, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

On deck today we concluded that this is the biggest no-mans-land in the world. There is nothing out here. We have been sailing for days and days and days and there is nothing, just some albatrosses and other birds. Today we saw a small whale; It looked like a dolphin sized killer whale.

“I guess the big whales are really happy to live here though", said Anders (Anders Dahlsjö/SWE). "There are not many people with the energy to travel here to try and hunt them".

When it is calm like today, everyone tries to have a look around on the boat and see if something needs to be fixed. I for example had a look through the food to find out exactly what and how much of everything we have got left. This leg seems to be a never ending story and maybe we will need to ration some food in the end. But we will wait with that for as long as possible. It is now when it's cold that we need the food the most. “I have stopped thinking so much about the finish line and what time we will get there. I am just working hard every watch, and we will see what happens", Anders Dahlsjö said.

Volvo Ocean Race

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