Friday, 2 March 2012

Preparing for the Doldrums again

Richard Mason at the helm onboard Team Sanya.
Credit: Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race)
If any of the sailors wanted to join the gumball rally and tear madly across a continent in overpowered speed machines, they would be well suited for the job.

Right now the yachts are just flat out, reaching for the south.

The long race east is now over, and the rewards are being handed out for their progress. Groupama was top of the class followed by best improver, Puma.

Class detention
Camper narrowly avoided class detention for not defending and covering the fleet when they headed north. They are now being punished by fate, as they have broken their J2 Jib and are suffering without it.

I can remember what it is like to be in a drag race without the right sail. You just know you’re losing out on every mile.

The pressure on the poor sail maker below decks, sewing franticly is immense. It may be that gear failure is the big decider in this sprint to the equator.

Doldrums lottery
It’s not all over yet for the back of the fleet either - we still have the lottery of the Doldrums.

The windless Doldrums chewed up and spat out the French team during Leg 1 and Leg 2 and they’ve not forgotten that bitter experience, according to navigator Jean-Luc Nélias.

Nélias has been sweating for days ahead of Saturday’s expected Doldrums’ crossing.

First boat
“All the traps promised in the brochure are waiting for the first boat and our friends behind us. Even though they are quite far away, they know these traps are there,” Nélias said.

This leg has been all about trading more wind against the additional distance sailed. The forecasts the fleet receive are the lifeblood and backbone of every tactical call they make. It’s imperative that good communications are maintained.

The Volvo Ocean Race can be a cruel and uncomfortable experience, but right now don’t feel too sorry for them.

They are tearing across the ocean at speeds approaching 30 knots and covering 500nm a day - and all enjoying Champagne conditions … but without the Champagne.

Mark Covell

No comments:

Post a Comment