Wednesday, 29 April 2009

VOR: DELTA LLOYD LEG SIX DAY 12 QFB: received 22.04.09 0818 GMT

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

Out of the blue the wind has just dropped three knots and become very unstable. The boat decelerates and we are switching gears by powering up the sails and moving the weight forward on deck. Fifteen minutes later we reverse the process as out of nowhere the breeze picks up and we are on our bikes again.

It has been around for centuries and already, in the time of the tea-clippers, it was a well noticed phenomenon. Some people call it the ‘sunset wobble’.

Nick Bice is helming with the sun setting in the background. The sky resembles the inventory of a baby shop with colours ranging from baby blue to purple and pink. Again it has been a day of champagne sailing.

One might wonder if this expression is hinting at the slightly unstable first steps when leaving the table after a dinner with a few too many glasses of wine. Maybe Sherlock, but since we are in a sailing race, let's stick to the nautical interpretation of the expression.

It could be our media man Sander Pluijm, who causes this wobbly wind, as it always happens when he comes on deck to shoot his award winning pictures in the last sun rays of the day. It would make him a very powerful wizard. To me it is just some weird weather thing that messes up the wind around sunset and makes us run around like madmen for half an hour.

Just as well as we can do with some activity after this pretty laid back day.

Conditions have been amazing, and so has been the racing. Since we left our friends on Telefónica Black this morning and made a bit of a move east, we have been trading places on the scoring board with them. Some gains to us, some gains to them. It is amazing to think that after 10 days of sailing we are still within two hours sailing of the majority of the fleet. That is a difference of less than one per cent, a good reminder that every last little detail out here matters, and we have to keep finding those extra tenths of knots of boatspeed.

Looking ahead today looks like one more light wind day with a transition to stronger winds in the evening when we are crossing a weak front. Then finally we might see some running sails. Wow! Anybody remember those things? You know those big colourful sails you see in the pictures from the old days?

Apart from leg one, we have hardly seen any spinnakers so far. Sure we see them sitting in their bag on deck and drag them backwards and forwards from time to time. Not exactly why we are bringing them. It will be nice for a change to go downwind for a bit and have a go at them before we turn to upwind mode again for the last couple of days of this leg. I have to tell the boys we are in for some 25 knots plus upwind soon. Ouch!

Volvo Ocean Race

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