Thursday, 5 March 2009
Checking sails ready for the Southern Ocean, 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 Rick Deppe
It's been a tough day all around on ll Mostro. Ericsson 3, Ericsson 4 and ourselves locked horns about two days ago in a 3 way battle to get to the scoring gate off New Zealand. We were in the lead on paper coming out of Fiji but Ericsson 4 got into better breeze in the east and took over temporarily, then as the boats started to converge it was our turn again as we regained the lead from them while they played the clouds and we sailed straight. Sadly, in the end it was not to be and they beat us to the gate by about 5 miles with Ericsson 3 sneaking into 2nd 2 miles ahead of us. On top of this the conditions last night and today have been nothing short of horrible, blast reaching in 25 to 30 knots is the most uncomfortable angle on these boats - wet, REALLY WET, and bouncy, violently can't stand up bouncy!!!
When you sign up for this Race you do it in the full knowledge that it's not a cruise and there will be some tough going along the way. I just don't remember it being like this when I did the race in 97/98. Of course I was much younger and stupider then but I was doing bow, and while it certainly wasn't easy I can't recall getting slammed over and over again by the weather, which once again seems to be setting itself up for a period of non-compliance.
Upon leaving New Zealand and heading towards Cape Horn you are not supposed to be beating which is what we are doing as I write. Beating seems to be all we've done in this bloody race so far... no I take that back - Leg 1 was OK. Either way, beating right now is not supposed to be part of the plan. Ken (Ken Read) and Capey (Andrew Cape) have been huddled in the Nav Station all day trying to figure out whether or not we should pass through the scoring gate and keep heading south or unbelievably as one computer model suggested that we pass through the scoring gate and turn immediately around and head back in the direction we came from! Looking back upwind from the stern of the boat (just an ex-bowmans opinion) I hope we don't do that.
Last night the J2 jib got itself a bit snarled up during a change, so Ken (when not scratching his head in the Nav Station) and Justin (Justin Ferris) have been battling to fix that all afternoon, not an easy job under the circumstances as the boat bounces along. The 3DL material used in our sails is fantastic but once broken, it can be very tricky to repair. The only place they can spread out is the main saloon but this is where everyone has to dress and undress as they come on and off watch, it's not ideal and I can see the frustration on everyone's face.
Volvo Ocean Race