Volvo Ocean Race - Brutal onboard Puma's Mar Mostro

Rome Kirby works the traveler in tricky sailing conditions with Tony Mutter on the helm. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 2 of the second stage of Leg 4. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:

'I reckon we could race around the world the opposite way, the upwind way – the ‘wrong way’ – and have more downwind sailing than we’ve had.' – Tony Mutter.

There’s a reason they call upwind sailing 'beating' – it’s what we take while doing it. These boats are just not made to sail this way. But we insist on doing it, like all the time. We hoped a southerly run from China to New Zealand would mean some spinnaker work, but it has started with anything but. We have to sail north to get south, and it means a few more days of uncomfortable upwind living aimed away from the mark.

Waves seem to come from all directions and there’s nothing to do but make sure you’re hanging on because you never see half of them. A Volvo 70 is designed to sail downwind, to reach at high speeds; shaped like a surfboard, our 'flat-bottomed girl' aches with each flight and cries with each crash. As the breeze lightens further there’s talk of canting the keel to leeward to induce heel and help avoid the belly flops that make us cringe.

Taiwain – our first waypoint – sits about 400 miles to our northeast and between us lies more of the waves we’ve come to hate, leftover swell from the monsoon, a few tacks, adverse current, and the gradually easing winds. Not exactly a pleasant trip so far, but well within early expectations.

We still own the northwest and the consensus remains that the further north you are the quicker you reach the new pressure. Our problem remains however, that the further east you are, the more you’re lifted. So we have to find that compromise: how do we get east without sacrificing our north? There are some big decisions to be made over the next few days.

Tom Addis and Ken Read mull over the new weather information in hopes of finding a way out of the northwest predicaments to come. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Puma Ocean Racing website