Thursday, 21 May 2009


Jaime Arbones doing some work on the pit, onboard Telefonica Black, on leg 7 from Boston to Galway. Image copyright Anton Paz/Telefonica Black/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Roger Nilson (navigator)

We are now 12nm due south of the SW corner of the ice exclusion zone. Intermittent fog arrives like wet, cold blankets and the SE wind is very unstable.

After we crossed the scoring gate 0436 GMT this morning we found ourselves leading the fleet. PUMA, Telefónica Blue, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 were busy fighting for scoring points, but we had decided already at Sable Island that we wanted to stay a bit south and rather fight for the overall position.

After picking up a few points for our 5th place, we tacked south as the rest of the fleet. As we already were south, we got the lead after crossing in front of Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon who also had chosen to fight for the ice box rather than scoring points.

During all day, all boats have been rushing south in order to pick up a predicted right hand wind shift. Our first smell of the shift had us tack to starboard, but soon we had to come back to port as the wind went the wrong way, to the left.

First one hour tack due south, almost 90 degrees off course and than another 1.5 hours to the south put us next to Ericsson 4 which had caught us up. During a sunny moment, late afternoon, we could also see Delta Lloyd, PUMA and Telefónica Blue behind us, all had pushed south and as us finally found the right shift.

In hindsight, we should have been a bit more patient and tacked a bit later the first time, but we are still in the leading group. We are certainly not spoiled by being in this position...!

Being hard on the wind, starboard tack, heading east along the ice fence, we suddenly picked up a meander of the Gulf Stream: two knots of east setting current and out of nowhere 16 degrees Celsius in the water. Felt like summer, for two hours, clear skies and steady warm, southerly wind sweeping across our frozen faces. But suddenly, back into thick fog and 10 degrees water.

Today has been absurd, feeling like changing between summer and winter five or six times. Every time we tacked south, fog gone and wind more to the right....tacking north, ice cold fog and left shifting wind.

After the SE corner of the ice box, which we will reach around lunch tomorrow, it will be time to finally crack sheets and start a new game, running downwind for the pearl of Western Ireland, Galway.

Our most dramatic moment today was when Javier de la Plaza’s bunk decided to fall down with him in it. He woke up when his head hit the bottom of the boat next to me in the navigation station. No serious damage but a rough way to wake up!

Good news, just got the position report, we are in the lead again...! The fight goes on...

Volvo Ocean Race

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