Wednesday, 20 May 2009

VOR: DELTA LLOYD LEG SEVEN DAY 4 QFB: received 19.05.09 0825 GMT

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

It has been almost two days since we saw the last boat off the southernmost point of Nova Scotia. Since then, we have been charging along in a surreal world of fog and grey water. The sails dripping with water and a constant light drizzle making the already cold wind feel even colder.

We have maxed out on clothing and have only the smallest slit of our faces uncovered to look at the instruments on the mast. We might as well be blind folded as the numbers are mostly telling lies. The cold water is playing tricks with the wind.

While there is 20 knots at the top of the rig, the water is like a mirror with not a ripple on the surface. Things are improving a bit as we cross from six degrees water into 10 degrees. The fog lifts a few more metres, and we can now see 100 metres instead of the usual 50 or less.

Tactically the scoring gate is complicating matters. With valuable points on the table going fast towards the gate is tempting, but will be costly for the long term. As the positions between Telefónica Negro and Green Dragon are pretty much fixed, we decide to go for the long term and go a more southerly route.

Crossing the scoring gate in sixth is not what we hoped for, but we are happy to have passed the Dragons after our tanker incident at the start. We are with the pack and ahead of us lies a tricky bit of sailing through more fog, light winds and variable currents.

We don’t expect big splits in the fleet, but there are big gains and losses to be made in the details. Later today and tomorrow we will be entering the zone where the cold water from the north meets the much warmer waters from the Gulf Stream. This enormous river is known for its unexpected twists and turns. Hit it right and you get a good 3-4 knot boast for a few hours. So it is all the play for to get to the first corner of the ice exclusion zone. Now after we have crossed the scoring gate a new challenge.

Volvo Ocean Race

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