Saturday, 23 May 2009


Rough weather in the North Atlantic, onboard Telefonica Black, on leg 7 from Boston to Galway. Image copyright Anton Paz/Telefonica Black/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Roger Nilson (navigator)

The last 24 hours have been very different from the days before. The dreaded downhill battle has started. We got into harder running last night and had to accept that our boat speed was not matching the others. Ericsson 4 moved away from us fast on the radar screen and at 10.5 nm we lost her.

In the morning we found our selves on starboard gybe, with two boats in sight. Telefónica Blue behind on our port quarter and PUMA behind us on our starboard side. We had our A7 up, a furling fractional gennaker as we could not handle the Black boat with the large masthead gennaker in the building breeze. She was just nose diving too much.

Soon we realised that both the Blue boat and PUMA were considerable faster than us. We had to watch PUMA passing us effortless, going more than a knot faster and a few degrees lower, under her biggest masthead gennaker in 27 knots of cold air.

The Blue boat embarrassed us the same way as PUMA, but it was more painful with PUMA as she was so close when she passed us...! Just a few hundred meters away.

Next to come from behind and pass us was Delta Lloyd. She was a dot on the horizon to the south and a few hours later she disappeared straight in front of us! Very frustrating, to say the least.. Delta totally out sailed us with 1.5 knots more speed and going as much as five degrees lower...What to do...?

Our Achilles heel was hurting big time....and no medicine available.

The four of us PUMA, Blue, Black and Delta Lloyd chose the option to hang on to the SSW’ly breeze east of the front, on starboard gybe, rather than going north on port and crossing the front as soon as possible as Ericsson 4, Green Dragon and Ericsson 3 did.

In our case, we chose going east first as the pre-frontal breeze was more left than predicted. At 1800 GMT the front had caught us up and the breeze swung around fast from SSW to west and we promptly gybed to port. As it looks right now, my feeling is that the northern route will two days we will know...

Volvo Ocean Race

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