Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Hard-working teams prepare for US leg

Groupama undergoing repairs to its broken mast in Itajai.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
As Camper edges closer to their Leg 5 finish, after stopping for vital repairs, the other teams are re-launching to get ready for the next leg already.

Camper has had a reasonably smooth sail up to Itajai, but it hasn’t been a cruise.

They are still racing against the clock to get there and their job list is a long one after such a difficult leg.

Windless hole
The twist to this most twisted leg is a windless zone off the coast of Itajai that has so far snared all of the Leg 5 finishers.

"The reality is there is a painful big windless hole we could end up parked in for a few hours merely 20 miles from Itajai,” Camper’s crew member Hamish Hooper said.

"This will be a cruel and painful way to end the leg, so we are hoping like anything it doesn’t eventuate and the breeze will carry us all the way there. I am remaining optimistic this will be the case.

Team effort
“Hopefully it won’t be too much more than 24 hours and we will be pulling quietly into the dock, in the early hours of the 30th day of the leg.”

The shore crew will need to draw on all the team if they are to be ready to rejoin the fleet for the DHL In-Port Race in Itajai on 21 April at full strength.

So just one day off for the sailors after 30 days at sea and then back into it.
“One day off will be plenty to recharge the batteries and ignite the fire in their bellies again.” Hamish said.

High expectations
The other teams have been working hard too. Team Telefónica launched on Monday, joining PUMA who have had the most time off and the least work to do.

Leg 6 will be a big one for PUMA, the only American team, as this is the leg where the fleet heads for the US and expectations are high after their recent win.

Groupama’s shore crew were this morning still preparing their replacement mast which was flown in from the Netherlands.

Long afternoon
Shore crew boss Ben Wright said the French crew planned to go sailing on Tuesday to check over and tune the new rig.

“There are always a lot of details to sort out. You can never do enough, it’s a race boat so it is never finished. Tomorrow’s sailing will all be about making sure everything works, locks, reefs everything, so it will be a longish afternoon out on the water.

“We need to tune the rig and set it up properly so there may be some to and fro-ing. We may need to come in for a short while to do some dock tuning and then go back out again.”

It’s a good job the dome on the back of the boat and the Inmarsat satellite link all works well.

That’s one less job for the over worked shore crews to deal with…    

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