by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 14 of the second stage of Leg 4. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Ryan Godfrey trims the staysail sheet to leeward. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'I don’t see any chance for a seabreeze. For a seabreeze scenario you need hot air and cold air, and there is no such thing as cold air in this part of the world!' Tony Mutter.
These waters lay claim to some of history’s worst fought battles, contested over many months during World War II. Guadalcanal, less than 100 miles to our west, was a major pawn in the struggle for Pacific supremacy. While the two factions now fighting for every inch of the same water hardly equal those times of political significance, it remains a war of east versus west – and nobody appears ready to give up anything on the way to Auckland.
As expected, the southerly progress of the Westers slowed last night as they made their first island passages, but they’re through now and are returning to speed. It’s the Easties that will next face the Solomon’s local challenges, and we’re no doubt clinging to the marginal gains made overnight. We’ve already experienced a decline in wind strength and can no longer sail the fast angles we were able to, only a few hours ago. These symptoms are expected to worsen on our approach to San Cristobal – the easternmost island – as we begin to feel the potential effects of a thermal sea breeze from the island masses.
Once past, the future is uncertain; there is little confidence in weather this part of the world. Between the lingering doldrums, cloud-dominated conditions, and the rapidly changing systems to our south, there’s no way to accurately forecast the next few days. With Groupama 86 miles off our bow, and Telefónica still further south than us, there’s plenty to worry about other than the weather too.
Consequently, onboard life has returned to one of high stress. But, it’s important to underline that stress, and stress that where most might see the prospect of loses, we still see opportunity to gain. Chalk it up to a race of learning the hard way? We are ready to fight it out here, and everyone’s excited to press on towards New Zealand, home to three of our intrepid crew!
Social hour on the sail stack in lighter winds. 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)
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