by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)
‘How many hours to the front now?’ ‘Is the wind going to build more?’ ‘What wind can we expect in the front?’
It is like I am on a quiz show with the challenge to answer 1000 questions within three minutes.
It is a big day for us out here with strong winds, big waves and lots of squalls, we are sailing on the limit all the time and any small mistake is going to snowball into something big.
On top of this there are some big choices being made with fleet opting for different options to attack the front and two boats in stealth play. We are on edge, and the adrenaline is pumping. Solid information is key to keeping our heads cool, and so we are checking the weather and position reports the minute they come in to keep updating our game plan.
We are in a fierce battle for fifth with Telefónica Black. They have opted to gybe early, which can be a winning move with a better angle in the westerly winds that we are expecting after the front. We are choosing a more northerly course to stay in the stronger winds longer and have an easier crossing of the light winds in the front. We are gaining back 15 miles as we are blasting towards the front.
Twelve hours later and we are in the new wind after the front, making fast progress to Boston again. We are got the fifth position! Good stuff, but Telefónica Black has gone through the front OK and is now only but a few miles behind us in distance to the finish and will for sure be fast with a better wind angle. The big news though is that Green Dragons are back in the game. They had a much better crossing of the front and are now only 11 miles behind us...
It looks like these 700 miles to the finish are going to provide us with ocean racing at its best. Close racing in the fleet. Gulfstream, fronts and a light wind high pressure system to cross. What more do you need?
Volvo Ocean Race