by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 6 of Leg 6. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Kelvin Harrap driving PUMA’s Mar Mostro at sunrise of day six. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'We only have about 25 days of racing left on this boat,' Kelvin Harrap.
Oh the joys of ocean racing. Here we are thinking we can afford a little complacency, some casual downtime on the rail – maybe a small reward for days of hard work and tangible successes – when what do we do? Sail into a wall of windlessness and watch Camper eventually appear on the horizon. Well, complacent no more! The last 12 hours have been anything but, and everyone’s working hard to refocus, buckle down, and get our nose back out in front.
At one point Camper looked poised to sail right around us, but then they too stopped on our line, eight miles or so to weather, and we eked out another small lead to leeward. It has been a productive night in puffy conditions and we’ve managed to increase our advantage to ten miles or so (we have them on radar), but there’s a new player to the game: Telefónica lurks just 12 miles away.
Compression scenarios such as these have been a driving factor in this race so far. The 'break away' performance is proving elusive for frontrunners on almost every leg, and it lends itself to the high performance of these boats. Large distances and significant gaps can be made up quickly when someone isn’t moving. Small differences in wind speed equal huge differences in boat speed, and with a course that takes us over the equator and through convergence zones as many times as this edition of the race has, we’re left with the high risk of park-up scenarios. These dramatic hero-to-zero, end-for-end fleet inversion situations are no fun, but it’s just one of those things you learn to accept…sometimes you’re the receiver and sometimes you’re the donor, either taking or giving miles in relative ease.
Nevertheless, nothing’s changed. We’re still in front and feeling good about the way we’re sailing the boat, and that’s the most important thing. Morale is high, the mood is light, and no matter how many times someone makes a run at our lead we feel we’re capable of taking it back. But everyone’s aware there are obstacles and hurdles out there standing between us and Miami, and many of them we simply can’t avoid without leaving the door wide open to the rest of the guys now chasing us north.
Michi Müller drags the tack of the A5 downwind runner forward onto the bowsprit before peeling to it from the big Code-0. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
Puma Ocean Racing website
Volvo Ocean Race website