Friday, 25 November 2011

The mad dash to Cape Town

It’s all on for young and old! They’ve skirted round the St Helena high that blocks the more direct route across the Atlantic. Now they can hook into the rolling cold fronts that blast through the Southern Ocean.

In the last Volvo Ocean Race, in 2008-09, I can remember the temperature plummeting as we shot south. After the warm trade winds the boat hits the cold water and damp air, and everything starts streaming with condensation, even in areas of the boat that don’t normally get wet.

Thermal shirt
If you haven’t kept your last clean dry thermal shirt for now you’re going to get cold, because nothing will dry in these dank conditions.

It was on leg one that Torben Greal on Ericsson 4 set a world record of 696.8nm covered in just 24 hours. They hit the cold front perfectly. The sea was still relatively flat as the storm enveloped them. They averaged 24.84 knots. By the time the rest of the fleet got there the sea was already too big to break records.

Record breaking
This time the three boats are pushing hard in favourable winds sailing at speeds creeping up into the low 30s. The fleet is now in record-breaking territory.

The leader Telefonica has just reported that they are flying and continuing to push the boat to the max. The big question that must be on their minds is, how hard do they push it?

Camper was reminded that there are still pitfalls out there, after they ran into a fishing net at full speed. The only way to free it was to stop and reverse back down to free the net before pushing on.

The ETA into Cape Town for Team Telefonica is looking like late Saturday night.

Mark Covell

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