Wednesday, 4 March 2009
'The sky at night' onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Kenny Read (skipper)
I know I am sounding like a broken record, but the closeness of the racing out here is just phenomenal. We snuck by Ericsson 4 yesterday afternoon and they dogged us overnight gaining slightly as we sailed into lighter winds. It has been the nature of this leg so far for the leader to not have the chance to stretch, and so it went last night and this morning.
And as we went toe to toe with Ericsson 4, their other half – Ericsson 3 snuck up over the horizon and decided to play the game with us as well, so well that they blew right by the two of us as we sat in a hole.
The ridge that we had to get through proved to be our nemesis. We positioned ourselves to leeward of the two Ericssons, planning on getting headed throughout the day. And sure enough we did. Problem was, as both Ericsson 3 and us were headed, Ericsson 4 got on the other side of a cloud and literally sailed away over the horizon. Brutally frustrating for a team who has worked so hard.
So we shook it off and now are in a drag race with Ericsson 3 to the gate, with Ericsson 4 about seven miles in front. Breeze has filled and we pretty much went through our inventory today switching from the largest to now the smallest headsail we have as we went from four knots of wind at one stage to now 26 knots and climbing. Tight reaching, but at least putting some good miles under us.
Next issue is the dreaded scoring gate, a line of latitude. This line of latitude has forced the boats low toward New Zealand and taken about 300-400 miles from our trip towards Cape Horn and put us in a situation where we will most likely pass the line then turn and go hard on the wind to get away from New Zealand. Now, anyone could cut the corner and head toward the ice gate now, but nobody seems to want to give up the points. When Capey (Andrew Cape – navigator) told me about the 400 miles we will lose going to the scoring gate - I have to admit it was tempting, but we need the points and a extra half point may prove valuable in the end.
Our jaunt down the Pacific has pretty much come to a screeching halt as the fans have been turned on, the fire hose unscrewed and the temperature rapidly turned down. Back to fast wet sailing and chewing up the miles at least for the time being. Now I have to figure out a way to keep the Kiwis on board as we brush by their beautiful island.
Volvo Ocean Race