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Volvo Ocean Race - A story of east versus west?

by Amory Ross on 4 Mar 2012
Pleasant sailing conditions near the equator as Ken Read takes advantage of rare sunlight to shower on the stern. Amory Ross/Puma Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race© http://www.puma.com/sailing
Volvo Ocean Race - Puma MCM, Amory Ross sends the latest on the crew's progress as they continue their journey towards Auckland.

I hope they’re showing the classic film 'West Side Story' in the Auckland race village. You know, the one about two rival city gangs on opposite sides of town? Ignore for a moment that it’s a movie about dancing, because we’re headed for a sort-of-similar story here, a story of east versus west.

It’s no longer about risk versus reward or 'rolling the dice,' or any of the other catchy ways to spin it; both sides are fully committed and there’s no trading places. The facts: we’re east with Groupama and Abu Dhabi. Telefónica is west with Camper and Sanya. From our perspective, their only play – other than sail upwind to our line and take a 200-mile loss with 2,000 miles to go – is to stay where they are and hope for favorable winds south of the Solomon Islands. Likewise, we’re fully east and to get to them would be an ill-advised run away from New Zealand. East versus West (only, without all the finger snapping).

It’s another big split in what has been a fascinating race. This has been a long leg, a grueling, confusing, punishing leg, but it has been full of moments like this that make you wonder…how’s it all going to play out? We’ve got a better angle to the finish and we’re closer. They’ve got stronger winds but are sailing towards unknown waters, including uncharted passages, mystery currents, and fluky winds. But that’s what ocean racing is all about, isn’t it? Weather, navigation, boat handling, and decision making are all paramount over the next week. It’s exciting. I mean, I’m excited!


Groupama is still 70 miles off the bow and we’re having trouble making our gains stick. Every good sched for us is followed by a good sched for them, and that’s been the seesaw life over the last few days. Ultimately, the goal is to stay within reach in the hopes that the Doldrums will offer the opportunity we’ve been waiting for. Neither of us have faired particularly well in similar scenarios thus far, so at the very least we can probably assure you’ll be entertained!

[While on the topic of entertainment, we had a bit of a sad sail story yesterday. Look for an update in today’s boat feed.]

Volvo Ocean Race website

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