Sunday, 19 April 2009

VOR: DELTA LLOYD SIX DAY 8 QFB: received 18.04.09 0941 GMT

The crew of Delta Lloyd preparing a sailchange. Bowmen Gerd-jan Poortman and Morgan White take down the R2, while the Code Zero is being unfurled. Image copyright Sander Pluijm/Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

"The latest satellite picture is full of huge squalls. It is going to be a challenging day."

With this message to the watch captains on Team Delta Lloyd we enter the Doldrums. Goal: try to cross this messy area as quick as possible and find the north east trade winds on the other side. With this in mind together with PUMA and Telefónica Blue we opt for a slightly more northerly course than the rest of the fleet. A bit more distance, but a better wind angle and shorter crossing.

A day of cat and mouse follows with PUMA, with fantastic close racing and frequent lead changes. In the lighter code zero conditions we can almost match their speed, and play the game of dodging clouds. Great! We make good progress in the first part of the day and we manage to avoid some bad clouds and make use of two others that are well lined up. Gains on the fleet and good progress to the trades. Almost there. Life is good.

Pitman David Pella fixing a rope on the backstay, onboard Delta Lloyd, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Sander Pluijm/Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race.

A new huge cloud is blocking our path, and there is no way around it. It simply is too big. It stretches right to left all across the horizon and must be about the size of Holland. We get hurt. Badly. Together with PUMA we get stuck under this cloud for at least an hour. Next sched, 20 nm loss to the fleet. Disaster. Gone is our good position to the fleet. I am pulling my hair out with frustration, but soon realise that that is not going to do us much good. Up and onwards, at least we have now reached the trades and are done with the Doldrums, time for the speed game again. We are still to windward of the fleet and in third just behind Puma.

Yes, speed is what it is all about again for the next 2000 nm to past the Caribbean Islands. No big passing lanes, just full focus on squeezing very last tenth of a knot out of the boat. Bar the Green Dragons, the newer generation boats have significantly more stability than us, so we will have to work our hardest in the next 48 hours to keep up with them. After this at least the winds will shift right a bit, the wind angle will open up, and the stability will not weigh as hard.

Day two on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. With only2-3 knots of wind, its good to move the weight as forward as possible, that means sleeping on the sails in the galley. Bowman Morgan White and watch leader Stu Wilson found themselves a good spot on the spinnaker. Image copyright Sander Pluijm/Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race.

Good to see that everybody here on the Team Delta Lloyd is giving it everything, and is always looking for that little extra. The atmosphere on board is good.

Determined, focused and always some smiles and a little joke around. Time to hammer out some big skeds, reaching is where these boats excel. Boston here we come!

Volvo Ocean Race

No comments: