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Volvo Ocean Race - Safety a priority for Puma's Mar Mostro

by Amory Ross on 26 Mar 2012
Tony Mutter drives with ski goggles in appropriately cold conditions. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Amory Ross/Puma Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race© http://www.puma.com/sailing
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 7 of Leg 5. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:

'I’m going to bring my survival suit home and live in it, it’s that comfy and warm,' Tony Mutter.

I don’t know how it happened, but on a boat laden with fancy doodads, gizmos, and thingamabobs, somebody forgot to put on a thermometer. Consequently, the only way to tangibly see the temperature is through the rigidity of our chocolate. The current batch of 11 Mars bars – one for each of us – is frozen solid, so it must be cold (this, in stark contrast to the last two legs, where chocolate was more or less liquefied in high heat), and we can now all see our breath in the air.

The water temperature is showing 11-degrees Celsius (that’s 50-degrees Fahrenheit), and I’d put the air below that, maybe around 40? 35? Doing the dishes is chillingly painful, and it takes a ton of soap just to get anything off the silverware. Today I saw Ryan come down, light a burner, and hold his glove-covered hands over it for a minute or two. But it could be worse I guess: we haven’t yet seen snow or ice, though we still have a lot of south left in our course. We’ve just passed the second to last ice gate, around latitude 47, and the final one lies at latitude 53, an additional six degrees south.

Getting down there presents the first tactical decision we’ve had to make in a while, but rationalism and safety in these strong Southern Ocean conditions is still our first priority. It’s far more prudent to keep the boat together than it would be to aim for every shift. Ideally, we’d set a bigger sail and just sail lower, but it’s still too windy and too risky for that. So, for the time being we’re stuck with a smaller sail and higher angles taking us to the east…

Safe and conservative thinking is never wrong though, so it’s an easy situation to live with. And plus, the more time we have in 'warmer' latitudes the better!

Puma Ocean Racing Volvo Ocean Race website

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