by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 10 of Leg 6. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Michi Müller stands by on the grinding pedestal waiting for the call of Ryan Godfrey, trimming the sail on the winch beside him. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'It smells awful down there. Not sure how we crossed the equator without a single daytime rain squall to shower in!' Jono Swain.
At least today we were ready for it! Sunrise this morning brought the familiar sight of Camper on the horizon, and sure enough, they only got bigger. Then came Telefónica just before sundown. So here we sit, three’s company, all lined up after 10 days of great racing. And as nice as it’s been out in front, there’s a certain excitement that comes with having other boats in clear sight. Not that this leg has been boring, but more than a week on the same tack in similar conditions gets extremely repetitive. It’s fun to have something to disrupt the monotony and it sure helps to pass the time too.
But we haven’t felt particularly fast all day so it’s back to the chalkboard again, as [explained a few days ago] lining up against competitors can still prove extremely valuable. More than likely our lack of pace stems from something we’re not doing, at least not as well as the other two, so this is yet another opportunity to learn and improve.
Our relative sluggishness could also be due to the changing conditions. Every boat has design strengths and weaknesses that favor certain wind speeds, sailing angles, and sea states, and today marked a clear transition from one to another. Finally gone (knock on wood) are the dismal doldrums and the volatile conditions that they can create, and arrived are the first hints of true trade wind sailing and 20-plus knot winds. But Mar Mostro tends to thrive in lighter conditions, particularly upwind like we’ve had, and now we’re moving away from that, maybe towards a windier corner that suits the design of Camper or Telefónica a little better.
It’s impossible to know for sure though, so all we can do is focus on making our boat go as fast as possible in the building breeze. With our two rivals in sight – even at night we can track their lights – we’re more or less back to the starting gates. Knowing that, it would be easy for us to change our strategy to defend against them, but it’s important to remember that we’re only just over halfway through this leg and we still need to sail our own race, plot our own course. There’s still a very long way to go until Miami!
Puma Ocean Racing website
Volvo Ocean Race website