Thursday, 19 March 2009

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 33 QFB: received 18.03.09 1132 GMT

Skipper Bouwe Bekking helming Telefonica Blue, in the Southern Ocean, with sea temperatures on 7 degrees, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

Today was a fun day, as there where huge westerly swells and about 16 knots of breeze. It was up and down the waves and we made some huge surfs, where we sometimes did double the windspeed. On surfs like that all the sails were just flapping, impossible to hold up with grinding them in. But when the surf finished, often the boatspeed dropped to 11-12 knots, so the average was still not so high.

As the breeze was heading, we had to change from the a spinnaker to our Code Zero, but it didn’t last very long, exactly 15 minutes the sail was up, when all of sudden the wind increased by five knots, which meant again changing and this time to our small J4.

Now it is easy sailing, just trimming the mainsail in and out. So basically a three person job, one steering , one trimming the main and one grinding, so Mikelito (Michael Pammenter) took the opportunity to make us all a warm drink, a nice welcome for us on deck, as it is a bit nippy, with the wind now coming more from ahead. The wind-chill factor starts kicking in. On top of that more spray, but as well it is starting to get foggy, two things that don’t help to make you feel any warmer.

Had a chat by VHF with my mate, Michel Kleinjans, who is sailing on a 40’ boat 40 ft called Roaring Forty. He is even more crazy than us, and sailing single handed from Wellington to Brazil, as part of another round the world race. We passed very close by his position and you could hear in his voice that he was happy to speak to somebody, who has the full understanding how tough it can be here and how he is feeling. The poor fellow will encounter a big storm just before rounding the Horn, which we manage to stay (luckily) ahead of. But since he is travelling at half of our speed, he has to face the music. At least a very classical Horn rounding for him, but don’t want to trade with him, as 40 ft is very, very small in these big waves. I wished him good luck, and above all safe trip, and then it was back to solitary life for him.

So a bit more than one day to go for us, and then we get around this famous landmark, and it looks like we will pass in daylight. As we expect a further heading (more coming onto the nose) breeze, we will most likely scrape the rocks as close as possible, not only good for an impressive view, but more important to cut the distance towards Rio to the minimum.

Volvo Ocean Race

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