Saturday, 23 May 2009
Navigator Andrew Cape, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 7 from Boston to Galway. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Kenny Read (skipper)
For all of you addicted to the three hour position reports, I write to you now because we are about to go Stealth and disappear for the next 12 hours or so. Why?
Because after our rudder fiasco we have battled back to be at least in the hunt and the next key part of this race is critical - the final gybe into Galway expecting a wind shift to the south.
When we all time our gybes will make or break the leg (probably shouldn't use the word ‘break’ right now but it was appropriate). And my guess is that you have seen the last of the fleet for a while. Ericsson 3 is already Stealth and I would put a dollar on the entire fleet going stealth at about the same time for the first time this race.
So does this build up the suspense for all of you, or is like turning off the lights so you can't actually see the seventh inning of a baseball game?
Does it give you a reprieve so you don't have to rush to your phone or computer every three hours? Does it allow you to sleep through the night and not get up to check in on your favourite boat for at least one evening?
Or does it really tick you off that you have followed closely this entire race to be literally put in the dark for maybe the most critical tactical call of the race?
I have mixed feelings on the StealthPlay. A lot of it would depend on your answer to the above questions. As a fan, I think I would want to see what was happening at this critical juncture. As a competitor, I think the three hour reports are really tight together and for sure they give us way more anxiety aboard, but they also seem to keep the fleet together as there is little opportunity to make a break with three hour scheds.
Stealth mode really is a blast back to the past when there were no position reports. Folks I have spoken to from the first Whitbread Races tell stories of not knowing how you did until the boat got into the harbour and saw who was tied up to the dock. Now that is the ultimate StealthPlay! But honestly, I could take or leave StealthPlay. In the end it is pretty overrated in my book.
So goodbye for now. Hopefully when you see us again we will have closed the distance to the group that is to the northwest of us. Although I believe the distance to the finish shows differently right now, I believe that most of the group to the northwest is actually ahead of us when we all gybe, and we still have plenty of catching up to do. So let’s hope we get this next play right. See you in 12 hours. Sleep well knowing that you don't have to get up to see our scheds.
Volvo Ocean Race