Monday, 7 November 2011

The first night at sea – and the weather is not looking good

The fleet crosses the starting line on leg one
Photo: Mark Covell/Volvo Ocean Race
Dark black cloud and the odd splash of rain added to the drama that was about to unfold in front of thousands of spectators. After a short lap around the bay of Alicante the six boats navigated the last buoy and headed out to sea.

A few brave spectator boats followed them, but it wasn’t long before the steep waves and constant sea spray forced them to turn back to port and they wished the fleet good luck for the last time.

Camper (looking strong) led the fleet away, followed by Telephonica, then Puma. Abu Dhabi had suffered a few sail change issues, but had done well to catch up. Groupama was hot on the heels of Abu Dhabi, leaving a long gap back to Team Sanya.

Huge test
The next 24 hours were going to be a huge test for all the boats. I went back to the dock and walked out onto the long breakwater where I sat for a while, looking out at the horizon.

The wind was getting up and the temperature was dropping. It felt very strange to think I was out there this time on the last race.

I remembered that feeling of stepping out into the unknown. I felt very odd heading back to the hotel for a shower, before sitting down to an evening meal.

Creature comforts
The sailors will be without any creature comforts for the next 20 days. Doing without a shower, real food and a bed is only tiny fraction of the hardships those lads will be enduring.

And this first night was going to be one of the hardest.

Mark Covell

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