Tuesday, 28 April 2009

VOR: DELTA LLOYD LEG SIX DAY 11: received 21.04.09 0819 GMT

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

"Second fastest in the fleet." "Really? That's a bit disappointing."

Not the most common reception of such a position report on board Team Delta Lloyd, but over the last 24 hours we have been spoilt. We are doing well on the fleet and are posting the highest speeds. So what's up?

Well, winds are getting disturbed to the NE by a small low pressure system and so the boats ahead and to windward of us are sailing into less breeze. It is only in the 0700 ZULU report that Telefónica Black has gained on us and she is now west of us.

So west is best? It looks like that is going to be the case over the next 12 hours as we cross the area with disturbed trades, but soon after the tables are about to turn with a new NE push coming through. The challenge down here in the nav station is whether to go for early gains and see what happens later, or to start making the move east to set up for better winds in the east for the following two days.

In a way we are all on tracks as we are locked in by the best angle for our masthead code zero. The sweet spot of the sail is only 10 degrees wide, so that is all we have to play with really. Go any lower or higher and you will lose out on boatspeed considerably.

Our current thinking is to stay down here for a while longer and then make a move east later today when the winds are restoring up there.

Compared to fire hosing of the last days, the sailing is quite pleasant. No more goggles, helmets and full foul weather gear, just Caribbean style shorts and T-shirts. Add a barbeque on the back, a nice chilled bottle of white wine and some fresh yellow fin tuna and we could be cruising along just nicely. The reality is that we have no time to attend to the bbq, no hands free to hold our plate and glass of wine, and the heel of the boat would have things sliding through the cockpit in no time. It would be a big mess.

At this angle the trimming and grinding is non stop to keep the boat going at 100% all the time. We are driving on a very fine balance, with the interaction between the trimmers and drivers being crucial. Lose it for a bit and you drop off the wagon. We are creating a lot of apparent wind which is what is keeping us fast.

While the true wind speed is down to 14 knots, our boatspeed generated wind is up to 22 knots. A huge difference and it takes at least two minutes to build this balance up.

So no rest for the wicked here on board Team Delta Lloyd, we have to keep focused. We have Telefónica in sight and are keen to climb up the ladder. We are on a bit of a roll, try stopping us!

Volvo Ocean Race

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