Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Racing PUMA on leg 8. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.
by Rick Deppe
Short tacking up the beach to stay out of current as we round Cap Griz Nez on the French side of the English Channels narrowest point, we are side by side with Ericsson 4. This makes for some fantastic racing and the advantage has been constantly switching. Right now it seems to be in our favour but that could change with one wind shift or one tack just a little too far out into the foul current. The distinctive silhouette of a Volvo 70 against the lights onshore looks like a black knife-blade cutting through the air, its narrow vertical shape makes a very aggressive profile and its all topped off with a little red light.
A fantastic little turnaround in the fleet earlier today found us briefly in third place for a while, a definite three down two to go moment and a real lift to the spirits after trailing for 18 or so hours.
We always have a pretty good idea where our competition is for a day. Sometimes we get an insight into the differences in sailing style or what the mood aboard is like, comparatively!
The only information we get about the onboard status of the other boats comes from the Volvo Web Story that we receive daily. We try to read between the lines and get a sense of what's going on, for example, does Ericsson 4 have two working wheels or not? We read in the report that they lost a wheel in a bit of a wipe out whilst gybing off the Irish coastline. Unfortunately, we have some experience of sailing with one wheel on Il Mostro, so we know it's not easy and will be especially difficult for them with all the tacking. Perhaps it's fixed or maybe they had a spare one to bolt on... hard to say but as always they are sailing very well and its making for a great race through the Straits of Dover.
Probably the biggest danger here in the busiest shipping lane in the world and having to dodge ships. The amount of shipping traffic is staggering. If they are a danger to us, we must equally be a real pain to them. We seem to change direction for no reason and I'm sure that they are very confused as to how a sailboat can go so fast!
A little earlier we had to tack away from the Piscus Star. Kenny (Kenny Read) was talking over the VHF radio to a frightfully British officer on the bridge about a possible slight course change on their part to help us out as our courses converged. He informed us that sadly he would be unable to help us out because the boat draws 22 metres and they were very limited with regards to where they could sail. That's one big boat and the decision was made to stay away.
If Singapore seemed like the parking garage for the worlds shipping fleet then the Straits of Dover would have to be the M25 and DC Beltway combined at rush hour... there are ships everywhere and Capey (Andrew Cape) will have a busy night ahead of him. Should be interesting to head up the Belgian and Dutch coastline and then make the sausage off Rotterdam tomorrow morning. I wonder if any locals will come out to see us go by...
A very suspicious rumour was going around earlier today regarding the possibility of a 50 knot blow between here and Marstrand, it seems to have been started by Salty (Rob Salthouse) who appears to have misheard a discussion in the nav station. A few believed him but most just shrugged, thankfully it turns out that he was wrong, but as we've found out on this race around the planet, the weather changes.
Volvo Ocean Race