Saturday, 23 May 2009

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG SEVEN DAY 7 QFB; received 22.05.09 1342 GMT

Rough weather in the North Atlantic, onboard Ericsson 3, on leg 7 from Boston to Galway. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gustav Morin

Squall night

It has been a crazy night. It was full on action before darkness with 30 to 35 knots of wind and really messy sea state which throws the boat up to speeds over 30 knots and the next seconds stops it with another massive wave.

When darkness fell we took the second reef in and that was lucky, a couple of hours later we had a few squalls coming in and pushing the gusts up to almost 50 knots.

The guys did an amazing job keeping the boat upright and in one piece. When these conditions go on for a while, the race is a lot about endurance. Being on deck demands full concentration at all times, one second of bad helming can result in a bad broach. Just at this moment we are hoisting a bigger sail to be able to sail a bit lower without loosing speed. But the broach will be even closer.

"Sometimes there is just nothing you can do to prevent the broach. You nosedive so badly that the rudders lose their effect and when the wave starts to turn the bow you can't fight back", says Magnus Olsson.

But we need to keep this big sail up and push harder than our opponents to gain back from our loss with the keel and daggerboard issues.

"We are sailing at the same speed as with the smaller sail, but the 10 degree lower course makes a difference in 60 miles towards the finish if you count on a distance of 400 miles", says navigator Aksel Magdahl.

The water temperature has been changing from 5 to 20 degrees the last couple of days and we are now back in the cold. The water is about 10 degrees and you have to keep moving not to freeze. You can also notice that the wind is a lot more powerful now when the temperature is lower and a bit more stable. The guys are exhausted when they come of watch.

Down below there is also a bit of an endurance race going on. For me as a media crew member, the never-ending story of bailing out water is full on and making food takes a lot more time and energy than in the light. I kind of like the food part though, I see it as a challenge every time I go up to the galley and get thrown around when the boat is smashing into the waves and bashes hard in the landings.

Working with computers and cameras is less amusing since they tend to break down in bad conditions. Water is dripping from all kinds of places and you have to be very careful, which is easier said than done since I struggle just to sit upright with the computer in my lap. One second the boat is diving so I almost fall forward, next second we are broaching and the third time we are heeling heavily to windward. It is just a big mess.

I was planning to do some filming which would require one of the guys to help me hold the camera. But I realise that is not going to happen. Sailing, eating and sleeping are the only things of importance for them now.

Volvo Ocean Race

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