Volvo Ocean Race, Day 3 of Leg 8. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
'This could suck,' Rome Kirby.
The things you see and the places you go. We just keep adding to the list! At around 5 AM local time we cleared Sao Miguel and the Azores in total darkness after making just one tack near sundown (our only manoeuvre so far since leaving Lisbon). Thank you to all of the supporters that shook off the early-morning cobwebs to come out and cheer us on; your enthusiasm was greatly appreciated!
Telefónica and Groupama are not far in front, just over a mile or two, but our options from here to Lorient are limited. The routing software has all models sailing us along a relatively identical line into the approaching low, which means it will more or less be a drag race to France. A drag race is okay if you’re fast, but not if you’re slow, and we haven’t spent much time racing downwind against the fleet so to be honest we’re not completely sure how these next few days will treat us.
Of course there’s the 'other' element too, the risk management factor: the forecast is calling for a steady build in breeze – by lunch time we should have 25 knots – and within 36 hours as we approach the center of the looming low-pressure system, winds could increase well into the 40’s. There’s a lot than can happen between here and there, and everyone’s aware of the potential risks and dangers that kind of weather creates; managing those changing conditions could be key to the remaining miles. After a Southern Ocean leg where we were the only boat to finish without stopping for repairs, we well understand the value in sailing conservatively through possibly breaking conditions.
Either way, everyone’s getting ready for one last push. We know it’ll be tough, tiring, wet, and wild, but it’s only for a few days and they’ll be some of our last, so bring it on! What would a leg of this race be without some extremely uncomfortable sailing.