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Volvo Ocean Race - Balancing act onboard Puma's Mar Mostro

by Amory Ross on 23 May 2012
Rome Kirby on the handles. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Amory Ross/Puma Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race© http://www.puma.com/sailing
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 3 of Leg 7. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:

'Officially making the switch from shoes to boots, short sleeve to long sleeve,' - Ryan Godfrey.

This leg must be hard to interpret from home. While it looks simple enough – we’re all taking a fairly direct route from Miami to Lisbon – little nuances in approach have us spread all over the ocean north to south and nobody seems to have much of a lead or a deficit; we’re very close in distance to finish.

It feels a little like a horse race… short in duration, high in intensity, and broken up into several major points of tactical decision-making that don’t play out until the final furlongs of the sprint to the finish:

- There was the start, first out of the gate gets the clean track and open ocean: Abu Dhabi. Slowly but surely they lost their high lane leaving Miami and fell back into the rest of us.

- There was turn 1, Tropical Storm Alberto: Groupama was the first to jibe and grab the inside lane heading east. They broke into a nice little lead while the rest of us got in line behind.

- We’re now approaching turn 2, the setup point for the backstretch – a long drag race to the northeast. The dilemma is: do you want the inside lane to the north, giving up easterly progress now for a conservative latitude and safer positioning on frontal systems moving off of America? Or do you want the outside lane to the south – quicker progress to the east, but a low lane that risks a bad exit, altogether missing those fronts that are stronger to the north.

We’re setup somewhere in the middle, trying (like everyone else) to find the balance between fast easting and slow northing, cautiously aware of North Atlantic weather and wind that traditionally strengthens the farther north you get. But really, this is just a setup for the next few days. We likely won’t see the full implications of a fanned-out fleet until the first front comes along and influences us all in different ways.

Nevertheless, this leg is shaping up to be a fast one. It’s strange looking at the routing report on day three and seeing seven days remaining to the finish. Usually by this time it reads 10 days or something, and that would only be to the halfway point because the weather files don’t extend beyond then. The last few legs have been 21, 20, and 19 days respectively, and it’s a hard thing to get your head around as we all try and settle in – that we’ll be off the boat in just a weeks time. To be clear though – that is not a complaint!

Puma Ocean Racing Volvo Ocean Race website

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