Saturday, 21 March 2009

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG FIVE DAY 35 QFB: received 20.03.09 1445 GMT

Ericsson 3 holding on to their lead with 1,500 miles to go, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gustav Morin

A rough night

If someone thought the tough days were over, they were wrong. Yesterday evening and the entire night has been a fight. Boat-breaking conditions, for sure.

Hard reaching with a really nasty sea state and a never ending slamming and bashing. I was bumping around in my bunk and one time I slid out of it and woke up to a déjà vu experience. We were taking on water.

We have a fitting on deck which has been leaking since the start. We never had time to fix it properly before we left Taiwan. It is nothing serious; we just have to bail out a couple of buckets a couple of times from the bow every day. But tonight we suddenly had a couple of hundred litres in there. Déjà vu...

The fitting had come off and the water was pouring in. But Jens Dolmer and Anders Dahlsjö managed to fix it. We got the water out and everything was back to normal again.

Everyone is pretty used to this kind of weather now. It is not very nice and whatever you do, it takes a lot of energy. We are all a bit afraid that the boat is going to break, that would really feel bad, not the least now when we are in the lead. When we started to leak on leg four, we were in a pretty solid second place and it was not a nice feeling to being forced to miss out on those points. If we again would lose a nice position due to the boat breaking I would have a personal breakdown I think.

I now know how much it takes to fix the boat and come back as a crew and perform on the sea again after an incident like we had. I am very proud to be a part of this crew having achieved what we have since Taiwan.

Back to the rough last night:
Since the breakdown, everyone is a bit worried when we hit bad conditions with a lot of slamming. But we all put a lot of trust in Jens, our boat captain, and if he is happy, we are usually happy. Yesterday he stayed up during the night looking after the boat. He spent most of his time in the nav desk checking the numbers, being the performance police, while Aksel Magdahl was sleeping. But, at the same time, he is listening and instantly reacting to noises he has not heard before and making the call when the guys should take the foot off the pedal.

‘If I think we are pushing to hard I let the keel down a couple of degrees to make the boat go slower’.

There are a lot of noisy bangs and slams going on, but you get familiar with the sound and you can filter out if something is not as it should be. Jens looked calm almost all the time during the night and that means everyone else was calm as well.

We have made big gains the last 24 hours, but it is far from a straight highway to the finish. There are still many things that can go wrong and the next thing to worry about is a high pressure that we will soon reach. And now it looks like it will be very light when we get closer to Rio, which also gives the others an opportunity to catch up...

This morning we had a nice visit that made us think of something else for a second. The Norwegian squad with Eivind Melleby and Arve Roaas were happy with seeing a new face onboard. It was a very small swordfish and it did Arve a big favour by doing some cleaning between his teeth.

Volvo Ocean Race

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