Friday, 27 March 2009

VOR: PUMA 'Out of Jail' soon

Bowman Casey Smith onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Rick Deppe

With over 12500 miles of sailing behind us and about 100 miles to go, the sailboat race that six weeks ago seemed impossible now seems to be coming to an end. The first boat has finished - my hat's off to the Ericsson 3 guys, they sailed a blinder and their win is well deserved. I can't wait to get in and start sharing stories; this leg will be remembered for a long time.

So what have we learned? Well I'm sure that over time my opinion of this leg will change, but for now, I'd have to say that it's probably a tad too far and could probably have done with a pit-stop in New Zealand. I think we're very lucky to see everyone around the Cape Horn in one piece. By the time all the boats are tied up in Rio, hopefully it will be five starters and five finishers. One thing I can say with certainty is that I haven't really enjoyed the leg very much, it's left me feeling weak and a little sick with lots of aches and pains. Definitely not a healthy situation for the media crew member and I'll be interested to talk with my fellow 11th men, Guo (Guo Chan, Green Dragon), Guy (Guy Salter, Ericsson 4), Gustav (Gustav Morin, Ericsson 3), and Gabi (Gabrielle Olivo, Telefónica Blue) (sounds like a cabaret act) and see how things went for them when we have our media crew member stopover de-brief.

As for my ten compadres on il Mostro, it feels as though I know everything there is to know about each and every one of them. Plain and simple, there's just nowhere to hide on this little seventy foot boat that has become the centre of our universe for the last year. Any strength's or weakness's will be fully exposed - farting, snoring, short temperedness and poor personal hygiene on the one hand, juxtaposed with good manners, patience and diligence around the boat on the other. If there's a shoe floating around in the bilge on its own I could probably guess to within two people whose it is, same with an unwashed coffee mug. I know who will be first out of his bunk and up on deck to help out when he's off watch. Who's grumpy in the morning, who can stay up all night and keep smiling, I even know who the chocolate robber is, but I'll never tell.

So for now, I feel like the guy in the movie who gets out of jail tomorrow, or the next day: scared .... excited ... ready for a new life onshore (for a few weeks anyway).

Volvo Ocean Race

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