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RS Sailing - DAME 2017

Volvo Ocean Race – Hard reality for Turn the Tide on Plastic

by Turn The Tide On Plastic on 9 Nov
Distance to finish: 4,437 nautical miles to Cape Town – Volvo Ocean Race Turn The Tide On Plastic
'Do you think, realistically, we can be competitive this leg?' Turn the Tide on Plastic's Onboard Reporter Sam Greenfield asks Australian Boat Captain Liz Wardley during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

'I hate that question,' she shakes her head and pushes her hair off her face. 'If we can get to Cape Town without any regrets, it's a start. If we can have team SHK/Scallywag behind us and Team Brunel near us, then even better.'

'But Liz, do you really think that Team Brunel will be in the same vicinity?'

Wardley is silent for a second. 'Well, until yesterday they were. Let's not forget we had a three-day match race with them during Leg 1, which they were pretty unhappy about. They came up with a million excuses as to why they were going slow which was patronising for us but whatever. Whatever makes them feel better. They haven't been in the mix so far so if you ask me, yes, I think we should make them one of our goals.'

Currently sailing 80 nautical miles behind the leading group consisting of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing, team AkzoNobel, MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team, Turn the Tide on Plastic are sitting at the back of the fleet in completely different weather conditions with no immediate hope of catching up. The team's only (faint) hope would be to continue sailing further west into the Atlantic Ocean with the ambition of doing something different to the rest of the pack.

This extract from Sam Greenfield's latest blog explains the hope the young crew has of the fleet compressing in the infamous Doldrums over the coming days.

Onboard Blog:

I ask our French Navigator Nico Lunven if he thinks our team has a speed issue, but he artfully dodges the question by diving into the intricacies of each boat sailing in different wind zones and the long nature of this leg where so much can still happen.

'So was that a yes or a no?' I press.

I back off for now.

We've just received the latest position report and it's not too bad. We've gained on the front pack and haven't lost anything to Team SHK/Scallywag.

Dee hopes we can make the rest of the afternoon positive and continue the compression as the fleet nears the doldrums. Dee has her fingers crossed that light winds at the doldrums will stop the leaders and help compress the pack. Very often the unpredictable or light winds at the equator can lead to a race reset, where the front is halted giving the stragglers a chance to catch the pack. And if that happens Dee wants a piece of the carnage.

She said something the other day about getting a buzz off having zero control and mitigating what nature throws her way? Well, I'm realising this doesn't always come in the shape of white-knuckle 30-knot sleigh rides.

Cloud dodging and navigating the fickle, shifting nature of the doldrums is just the next chapter. And although we still have about 1000 miles to the equator, it's never too early for a lesson in [bleep] cloud management.

By Day 7 of this leg, more than 60% of Caffari's crew will have spent their longest time at sea. Sometimes it's perhaps easy to forget what it really takes both mentally and physically to race for weeks offshore in a race like the Volvo Ocean Race. Although being last isn't easy (particularly for the more experienced sailors), the bravery and dedication these young sailors are showing is remarkable.

Guess you have to start somewhere.

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