Onboard Camper- Come fly with me

Roberto Bermudez de Castro and crew weathers the storm onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

I was spending a bit of time thinking about flying today, how it will be rather nice to arrive in a new country- in fact a new continent, that I have never set foot on before and I won’t have had to spend any time in busy airports or on crammed aeroplanes… How very pioneering.

Speaking of aeroplanes, I learnt that Emirates now fly to Baghdad, Iraq - four times per week! How wonderful is that?

Perhaps next time I fly to Europe from New Zealand, instead of stopping off in Dubai I might opt for Baghdad, at least I think it would be fair to assume they have a pretty new airport…

Anyway back to the race onboard CAMPER, where I am being reminded each day that it is one less day until we cross the equator. Gee I can’t wait for that! It will be like a stag party but worse- nothing to drink…

While on the topic of the equator and the ITCZ and the doldrums here is a very informative take on our position from someone who knows better than anyone: Our trusty Navigator Will Oxley.

'It was fast & furious sailing today and for a while we made gains on both Telefonica and Puma in terms of distance to finish but these were not real gains as the other two boats were well to the west of us and when they turn their bows to the south the separation on the leaderboard grew again.

The reason we put so much effort into going west instead of turning the boat and going fast towards Fernando is because the gybe we did this afternoon (barring huge clouds & no wind zones) will be the last gybe until Fernando, which is 1700 miles away. The gybe was important because to a large extent it defines our entry point into the ITCZ, or doldrums.

History tells us that west is best for a passage of the doldrums however once through the doldrums a boat in the west has to sail finer, tighter angles to Fernando and the boats slightly to their east is able to put the bow down and go faster.

Its pretty clear to those experienced watchers of races down the Atlantic that our passage so far has been anything but orthodox.

The good news is that we should now be able to point the bow towards Fernando whereas normally at this stage we would be worrying about how to get west and also avoid the wind shadows of the cape Verde islands.

This is what Groupama are surely doing.

They’re in a difficult position at the moment. The low-pressure system to the north has completely disrupted the trade winds and the Cape Verdes’ are in their way,

In the last 30 hours Groupama has seen their lead of around 330 miles over us shrink to around 120 miles. At the moment we are continuing to reduce this deficit at about 7 miles per hour.

I think its likely that Groupama will attempt to cross the ITCZ much further to the east than the other 3 boats, this is a higher risk option. But as always-high risk options can pay big dividends. It could also see big loses. Only time will tell.

As we sail south a new Azores high pressure system (When this is in position the trade winds re-establish) is moving in behind us, this means its likely that there will be some compression of the fleet as we move south as the boats further south will have less wind.

Puma and Telefonica both have a very healthy lead over us at present.

Our sole aim is to reduce that deficit as much as possible by Fernando to give us a chance of overtaking them in the south Atlantic.

There is still a long way to go in this leg.'