by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)
This leg is going incredibly fast. Until today we more or less have been pointing at the mark all the way from the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha.
This leg is going so fast that today is already the day for the thousand mile bet!
The bet signifies that the finish now is but a few days sailing away, and that good food, a nice soft bed and chilled drinks are within reach. So what is this bet about?
It is a winner takes all, no compromise bet with 550 US at stake. Guess our ETA in Boston right and you are the man. To ensure fair play, Ben Costello has made an official ETA board with both the rules and boxes for entering the date and time. As these bets are prone to cheating, the entries are done with permanent marker pen, and the board is placed in the central area where late minute illegal adjustments will be noticed immediately.
Traditionally the navigator is out, as he is too close to the fire and could be seen as an inside trader. On Team Delta Lloyd I have been fortunate enough to be allowed to enter, so I am in and determined to win.
The bet has some interesting effects on life on board. First of all, the navigation area all of a sudden is THE place to hang out. The usual coffee talk is no longer done in the galley or on deck, and when the guys are asking to use the laptop to check their email, I catch them going through the weather routing details in our navigation programmes (which I already have manipulated, knowing that this would happen).
Stu (Stuart Wilson) recons the ETA will be somewhere on Tuesday, as all Volvo legs seem to be finishing on Tuesdays. Most people however are opting for the Sunday or Monday, especially after I put in an ETA for Sunday evening. My entry was watched very closely, and immediately the hours around it were taken. Little do the guys know that I have made a deal with one of the guys to place a decoy ETA and share the loot on his eta bet!
Which ever way the bet will turn out, it makes the guys eager to get there as most often the bets are rather optimistic. Good for boatspeed and morale.
There has again been no lack of boatspeed today as we entered into the new wind band. Great sailing in 20 to 24 knots of wind, and now we even have spinnakers up! Our close battle with Telefónica Black continues, which is a real motivator as well. They are opting for a more risky westerly route and did well all yesterday morning, but now they are in less wind, so it is our turn again.
The big call today is when to gybe and head west towards the front. Go too early and you find yourself in less wind. Go too late and you are sailing too much away from the mark, and will have a less favourable wind angle after the front.
The front is going to give us strong winds and tough wave conditions, so we will have to make sure we nurse the boat through that. To finish first, first you have to finish.
Volvo Ocean Race