by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 11 of Leg 5. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
PUMA’s Mar Mostro buries its bow during wet downwind conditions. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
We have just over 500 miles to go until Cape Horn, and that’s about the only thing driving the 11 of us forward right now. It’s not getting warmer, it’s not getting drier, and it’s not getting easier, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and once we get around that mirage of a rock on the horizon, life is supposed to improve dramatically.
But if 11 days of Southern Ocean shellacking isn’t enough, it appears this remote place could be saving its severest punishment for last. A new system of low pressure is moving in, and just in time to make sure we remember how miserably malicious the weather can be in this part of the world! Like we didn’t already know… The forecast is calling for 30 to 40 knots – maybe more – and we’ll likely be gybing down the coast of Chile on our way down to the Horn. One more pasting for the books…
Today’s difficult development: we have less fuel than we would like to have at this stage of the leg. We use our diesel generator to charge the batteries, run the watermaker, and cant the keel, and we bring a different amount of fuel for each leg depending on how much we are expecting to use. Excess fuel at the finish means you carried unnecessary weight. Too little fuel and…you’ve got a problem.
Our batteries have been so impacted by the freezing temperatures that they’re having a hard time holding their charge. Consequently, we’ve been charging more than normal, and our fuel stores are below where we thought they’d be. We’re hoping things normalize as we turn north towards hotter climates, but we’ve already started coordinating the charging, media, and watermaking cycles while running the engines to conserve what we can now. Nothing major, but just being aware and responsible.
It’s another reminder that this race and (especially) this leg are about more than just being fast!
As powerful as a Volvo 70 may be, it's only four people on deck when sailing offshore. Here, Brad Jackson drives while Casey Smith trims the main (middle), with Ryan Godfrey standing by on the grinding pedestal (left). PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
Puma Ocean Racing website
Volvo Ocean Race website