Wednesday, 29 April 2009

VOR: DELTA LLOYD LEG SIX DAY 16 QFB: received 26.04.09 0831 GMT

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

The finish is within sight, and the fight for fifth is still continuing. With the big split over the last 24 hours, each position report is a message from above to tell us what conditions the others are in. Are they gaining or losing? What is their wind like? How fast were they?

Only now that we have passed the first waypoint of the whale sanctuary can we say that our northerly course has been good and has given us a 20 mile lead to Telefónica Black. All yesterday the gains and losses were evenly spread, but good fortune looked down on us and during the night the winds shifted left far enough to give us a fast wind angle to the mark and we were steadily gaining.

Now there are around 200 miles left, and we wish we were there. It is absolutely freezing out here. The water temperature has dropped like a rock since we have left the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, and everybody has done a frantic dive in their gear bags to put as many clothes as possible on. We have all pretty much maxed out in the clothing department, and we are still cold. What a contrast from the shorts and T-shirt Caribbean sailing from a few days ago.

For today we are expecting a small cold front to pass us, so we can expect another transition zone with lighter winds. It is always the transition zones where the big gains and losses are made, so over the last night we have sent as many people as we could down to have a some extra sleep and be ready for a fighting finish in the next 20 hours.

Everybody is in good spirits (apart from the occasional cursing of the cold). With the good sailing we have done over the last two weeks we feel we can take on the world. It is amazing to see how quickly this team has grown form our first days training in Brasil. With more than half of the crew new to the team this was a big challenge. Now everybody has found their role on the boat and the sail changes are flawless.

200 miles to go with lots of tricky weather and a possible light air finish. We are keeping focused and alert, keeping all the channels open to see what will be the latest twist in this never ending race for fifth. Please can we just be there?

Volvo Ocean Race

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