Thursday, 16 April 2009

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG SIX DAY 5 QFB: received 15.04.09 1330 GMT

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Stu Bannatyne (watch captain)

Day four is almost over on Ericsson 4 and the frantic sail changes and gear changing of the previous few days seems to be slowing down. We are entering a period of more stable breeze and the sailing is very pleasant on deck - shorts and tee-shirts are all that is required (unless of course you are going forward to the always wet bow area of Ericsson 4). Time to reflect a little on the race so far and what the future may hold.

The last two stopovers have been very short, Qingdao by design and Rio by virtue of our extra long voyage on leg five. This has put a lot of pressure on shore crews to complete job lists and the sailors are given precious little time to recover before putting to sea again. Particularly in Rio there was barely enough time to regain weight (although four trips to Porcao helped in this department!) let alone any conditioning or strength lost on the previous leg. This means that most of the sailors on leg six will still be at sub-optimum physically, add to this the travelling for the guys that flew home from Rio and it makes for a tough turn around. This leg will also be tough as we make many sail changes in hot weather and then at the end will likely be in freezing cold temperatures again as we approach Boston.

There is a lot of talk about the next edition of the race and most of the sailors would be keen on a few longer stopovers. If this is not the plan then I think it is likely we will see a more active rotation policy on all boats and potentially sailing squads of three or four more than the race crew number. Maybe this a good thing for the race as more sailors will take part but it will escalate costs for the teams which is a downside to consider.

Regardless of the ultimate setup for the next race I am sure there will be a large number of the current sailors lining up again for another shot. There are just too many highlights of being involved in this race to consider not doing it again and for some reason most of my bad memories are quickly forgotten while the most enjoyable moments remain fresh in my mind long afterwards. So no doubt will probably see you again next time (assuming we can get through the rest of this race intact!) - regardless of the ultimate race format.

by Guy Salter

One thing that has improved no end onboard Ericsson 4 is the snacks programme. There are more sweet and savoury snacks than you could imagine onboard and all carefully selected by Joca Signorini. It definitely helps when one of your own is a local and Joca has come up trumps with a varied selection of snacks which I guess are his childhood favourites. In fact I will need to ask his family whether Joca's favourite is a bar called a ‘Trio’ as he seems to be a little partial to these.

If we were to stop in the UK on this race and if I were in charge of the snacks then the list would be endless - skips, quavers, wheat crunchies, flying saucers........... and not forgetting Walker's new favourite 'onion bhaji' flavoured crisps. It’s amazing what you think about in the long silent hours onboard!

Volvo Ocean Race

No comments: