Midwinter days—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond
While the weekend proved to be cold, grey and dreary—punctuated by random bursts of sunlight and reluctant winter shine—here in the Pacific Northwest, it's (fortunately) not winter everywhere. Ironically, the two biggest offshore races that are currently taking place—the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) and the Global Ocean Race (GOR)—are not exactly warm-weather affairs. VOR sailors are (eventually) pressing south, crossing the equator and heading for New Zealand, while GOR sailors have their bows aimed north for South America. (Translated: Smarter souls got their mid-winter offshore fix during last week's Caribbean 600!)
|PUMA's Mar Mostro finally hitting stride in the East China Sea after a week of upwind misery. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race) Amory Ross/Puma Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race© |
|Michi Müller goes to the end of the bowsprit while preparing the tack of the new sail for a hoist. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race) Amory Ross/Puma Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race© |
Emirates Team New Zealand has been leading the globe-girdling VOR fleet while the weekend's big news was Puma Ocean Racing's radical breakaway turn to the north, which the team executed just after clearing Taiwan's southeast corner.
But its a big gamble and now Groupama sailing team hold the lead and the furthest east position and at 0800 UTC this morning were charging along at an average of 18 knots -- a speed only topped by their neighbours Puma Ocean Racing and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, who have been powering south east at peak speeds above 25 knots.
For Puma the return to fast sailing comes as a blessed relief after their charge down the eastern flank had temporarily ground to a halt in a patch of light airs -- a warning to Ken Read's team of their vulnerable position on the edge of the fleet.
Find out how well Read and company's gamble paid off, inside and on the website, as it happens.
And in the double-handed, around-the-world GOR, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel, aboard the Class 40, Cessna Citation, are getting close to nabbing victory in leg-three, with just a few hundred miles separating their bow from the finishing line. The grueling, boat-testing leg started in Wellington, New Zealand and is taking the now-lean fleet (from five to three) to Punta del Este, Uruguay.
As far as conditions, Nick Leggatt aboard Financial Crisis, sums up the fleet's situation nicely: 'The wind was forward of the beam and we were pounding over the big waves again... The sun has not been seen for days as dark grey heavy clouds loom over the boat while the icy cold water of the southeast Pacific Ocean splashes over the deck and runs down into the cockpit.'
Sometimes, the cloudy, pregnant grey of a Pacific Northwest midwinter's day doesn't feel so unpleasant, especially when creature comforts such as a stable horizon, a sound roof and a functional thermostat are considered...not to mention the errant rum drink...
|Etchells Worlds 2012 Final Day Ingrid Abery - Copyright|
Also inside this issue, check out the Etchells Worlds' wrap-up report, Jud Smith put himself in a winning position, at the business end of the event, we have interviewws and image galleries; read about the winners of the RORC's Caribbean 600, and get the latest from the Chicago Match Race Center's Miami Open Elliott 6m Invitational Regatta.
And for anyone really jonesing for a warm-water fix, check out the pre-regatta registration report from the upcoming St. Maarten Heineken Regatta—clearly, you're not alone in your desire for tradewinds and Caribbean vibes are outweighing thoughts of winter wonderlands.
May the four winds blow you safely home,
David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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