Wednesday, 20 May 2009

VOR: PUMA LEG SEVEN DAY 3 QFB; received 18.05.09 1532 GMT

Kenny Read indulges in a snack attack on board PUMA. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Kenny Read (skipper)

I know I have said this before, but the competition out here is ridiculous. The speed differences are so close in certain conditions you would swear that this is one design racing. I don't know what numbers you folks get, but we just got a sched and when we calculate it to the corner where the ice gate meets the scoring gate it goes like this:

1st Il Mostro
2nd Ericson 3, a whopping three tenths of a mile back
3rd Ericsson 4, we are killing them as they are almost five tenths of a mile astern.
4th Telefónica Blue, 1.2 miles back. Don't know why they even continue they are so far off the pace. Unreal.

5th place Telefónica Black is only 3.5 miles back as well.

So, if you aboard il Mostro you would be saying all is good right?

Not so fast. Not only is the distance between the boats ridiculously close, it is impossible to cover anyone. The fog is so thick that you can barely see the bow of the boat never mind the competition. The radar, which sits on the front of the mast doesn't see behind the boat, only forward, as there is a big carbon pole blocking the view to the rear. So, after each position report we have no idea where everyone is going for the next three hours. Makes for a tough game when a lead is so precarious.

It has also been interesting as each boat in the top group has had its time to shine. At times all of us have had a condition that it liked versus the others and I think all have led at one stage during this sprint to the ice.

On board the mood is anxious and optimistic. Last night was a very interesting night to sail. A bit chilly though. Went into my bag and pulled out just about every piece of clothing that I brought and ventured on deck for a sail change and a bit of driving. When driving it felt like you were in a video game. 18 knots of wind at the top of the mast, the boat heeled over 25 degrees, and literally no wind on the water. A perfectly smooth, glassy ocean. And not one bit of visibility. I think the phrase is ‘pea soup fog’. Very wet and just above freezing in temperature, but surreal none the less. You had to concentrate on the instruments with a real intensity, because if you started to wander there was nothing visually to help get back on track. Very odd, but a really cool night to sail, literally and figuratively. I will remember that one for a while.

Good news by the way, I can type again with my chopped off finger. I think I was asked about my finger more than any other question over the past three weeks. I am happy to report that it has grown back and typing is my own special therapy to get the nerves to start working correctly. I can tell you the finger still does not like the cold though!

Volvo Ocean Race

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