Volvo Ocean Race - Abu Dhabi plots their comeback

Justin Slattery runs up the foredeck during a sail change, onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.
In the Volvo Ocean Race, Abu Dhabi’s newest recruit, Anthony 'Nocka' Nossiter, is reckoning that he’s been re-united with his sea legs after ten days of full-on Southern Ocean action though he’d previously not sailed in the VOR for a decade.

The easy-going 38-year-old, regarded as one of Australia’s top yachtsmen, has slotted right in with the crew of Azzam as they attempt a Southern Ocean comeback.

'It’s always quite interesting joining a scene which has been together for a period of time, working together for a year or so already, but it’s been quite a jolly,' Nocka said.

'I’m fitting in well and all the guys on board are good lads. The guys I didn’t know, we’ve had some good bonding sessions on deck, and half the lads I did know from previous races so we’ve had some pretty good bar chatter.

'It’s all very cosy on board, and I feel like I’ve got my sea legs.'

Abu Dhabi were today around 1,400 miles behind leg leaders Groupama due to structural damage that forced their return to Auckland just hours into the leg, but Nocka said a comeback was by no means out of the question.

'We’re quite a long way off the pace with our delayed start time but you never know what could happen,' he said.

'The last time I did this race we passed three boats between Cape Horn and the finish by going west of the Falkland Islands. It’s like a totally new race after the Horn -- it could be a restart.'

Anthony Nossiter during sail change onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Known for his humour, Knocka has already led his watch on a rendition of classic Aussie song Waltzing Matilda – and spirits are high on board the boat, driven on by the adrenaline of surfing huge waves at up to 40 knots.

'It’s amazing what the addition of adrenaline does to a team’s mood,' media crewman Nick Dana wrote.

'For the past four or five hours we have all been on deck hooting and hollering at whoever is driving, egging them on for a good stack into the next wave.

'Paul (Willcox) managed to fill the cockpit up enough to make it look like an above-ground swimming pool. Needless to say, we all went swimming.

'The boat is handling fantastilyc – this is the first time we have really had her in this kind of situation and everyone is very pleased.'

Helmsman Simon Fisher added: 'This is why we are down here. Good boat, good team.

'The first timers looking forward to their Cape Horn rounding hopefully in daylight, and everyone working hard to reel in the frontrunners.

'The seas are building, the breeze is building and as the scheds come in we can see we are making gains on everyone, so watch out boys, here we come.'

Volvo Ocean Race website