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Volvo Ocean Race- The red runaway freight express train to Lorient

by Hamish Hooper on 14 Jun 2012
Water over the deck onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France. Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

MCM on Camper, Hamish Hooper, whose role on the boat is to handle media and cook, writes of the blast across the Bay of Biscay:

Generally I sleep pretty soundly onboard Camper, but last night was definitely an exception. Such was the violet motion back forward, up down, side-to-side and everything in between. As well as the usually rainforest dripping from above. I lost count of the times I seemed to be momentarily levitating above my bunk. But the real awakener was the catapult from my bunk forward into the nav seat. Luckily no one was sitting in it.

The red runaway freight train express to Lorient has all aboard and is not stopping until it reaches France. The concerning thing is the wind is still building from what we have right now where we are fully blasting along averaging mid 20’s- before we topped over 30 knots.

The miles are clocking down at a fantastic rate, with what seemed like minutes 100 miles just disappeared.

There is constant conversation on how hard to push the boat, already we have seen Groupama have a problem with their mainsail, but they seem to be right back in the thick of it with not too much downtime.

Every sail change has to be totally thought out and planned with what weather is ahead, just because slowing down for 20 minutes can cost you 10 miles.

Despite this I think across the fleet there is one eye on the 24-hour speed record for this race. That and getting more points on the board are motivation enough for us right now.

You can sense the determination of all of the guys onboard. This is incredible tough and draining sailing but you just know these guys are not going to give an inch to the other boats.

We still have an outside chance of winning this race and you can guarantee that everyone onboard CAMPER will fight with everything to keep the hope alive.

The downside to all of this is the abundance of water. Water just appears throughout the boat.

I have been wondering why I have been needing to go to the toilet a lot, I figure it’s the constant flow, drip and movement of water everywhere, all around you that is assisting in my need, which is very inconvenient.

In conditions like this you simply can’t go forward and use the toilet, the movement of the boat is so violent that you will only make a huge mess.

The options; get totally kitted up in all your wet weather get up on deck get saturated instantly then spend 30 seconds doing your business off the back of the boat, only to turn around and go back inside. The other option is to use the fantastic urine bottle we have. It is marvelous, just like the ones they use in hospital.

Without it, life onboard in these conditions would be really annoying.

It seems ridiculous with all of the bloody water everywhere that along with bailing an endless deluge of water out of the boat, but I also have to produce water, which is rather a necessity.

To get fresh water we desalinate the sea water- there is no shortage of that.

On average to fill a 25 litre tank will take close to an hour. My trouble is that an hour is a long time on this boat, and you can quite easily get sidetracked and forget to turn it off, much to the annoyance of Mike Pammenter. I have been pretty good at not forgetting lately, but I must confess to you Michael…

Oops I did it again….

No biggie though, It was only a couple of litres of excess, and right now there is a hell of a lot more than a few litres of water in the bottom of the boat.

Guess what I am about to do.

Actually I have to put breakfast on first, something that would make a great Japanese game show- it would be called ‘cook with boiling hot water and open flame in boat behaving like a bucking bronco.’

Golden Quote: 'It is that old question, when to pull back and when to keep pushing. You just have to judge things at the moment and keep pushing hard. At the moment things are alright. So we keep on blasting along, chasing down the leading boats just a handful of miles away.' Chris Nicholson


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