Wednesday, 15 April 2009

VOR: DELTA LLOYD LEG SIX DAY 3 QFB: received 140.04.09 0907 GMT

Delta Lloyd on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Sander Pluijm/Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

Minefield of squalls

Who ever said that trade winds are constant? Winds are varying from seven to 18 knots and the wind direction is all over the place. A varied mix of clouds is being thrown at us at random from the east. Some big, some small, some windy, some with no wind at all. Champagne sailing? Forget it! Half drunk coffees are spread through the cockpit and the galley is full with unwashed bowls. Normally these are big no no’s, but the last 24 hours we have been going from one sail change to the next and back. Bad things happen. You just have to deal with it the best you can.

The furling sails are proving to be the best way to get through the mine field of squalls. We can quickly furl the masthead code zero, survive the squall wit the small furling J4 jib and then reverse the process once we are through with it all.

The big thing is trying to anticipate the squalls and be one step ahead. Sometimes we manage, sometimes we get caught out, and it is these moments when things get hectic. Sheets and halyards everywhere, torches flashing, sail bags from the front to the back of the boat. One wonders how we can still operate, but we manage somehow.

Overall it means that gains and losses are varied over the fleet, with some boats doing well one sked and others another. We are trying to stick with our easterly route as much as we can as there are less squalls and better wind further away from the shore. On average we hope to come out a little better than the guys to leeward. Less than 800 miles to the scoring gate and we are determined to get there in the top three.

We are racing our hearts out and having fun doing it, which is very important. Despite our relatively new team with a lot of new guys, we are working better and better together, refining our communications and maneuvers. Exhausted but happy and determined is the best description of the mood on the boat at the moment. Not sure we can lose the first feeling, but sure working hard on keeping the last two!

Going to have a little nap while I can. Out.

Volvo Ocean Race

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