by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 16 of Leg 5. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Brad Jackson trimming the Code-0 in light air. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Yet another day of close-proximity sailing with Groupama, yet another day of multiple lead changes with the French. It’s been said before, but it still amazes me that after all we have been through, here we are trading places less than a thousand miles away from the finish line. Our seesaw battle for first place is growing in intensity, and it’s a source of constant excitement.
Even though Telefónica has been making quick northerly progress in better winds (almost to the point of contention), it’s still very much a two-boat game, and that has changed the way we operate. Scheds? What scheds? Half the time the position reports go unnoticed and unread. Nobody looks, nobody cares. Walk up on deck and see with your own eyes! Are we up? Are we down? Fast? Slow? This morning – if they gybe, what do we do? This evening – if they tack, what do we do? Each scenario is scrutinized again and again (until they then do the unexpected!).
These last few days very well could have raced with an offshore mentality on an inshore scale, in other words, coastal weather and routing take precedence. But it has turned out differently: we are sailing with inshore mentalities – boat to boat tactics – on an offshore scale, shorthanded and under-fed. If the last 15 days are any indication, each and every boat length gained or lost is going to prove critical; it could be the decisive one to win with, or the heart-breaking one to lose from. So we push the boat and ourselves as if we’re sailing 2-mile beats, though we are most certainly not!
The resulting consequence is fatigue. We were all tired to begin with, but the intensity of these last few days – and the next four or five expected to come – is wearing us out. Fortunately, while we’re low on food and energy, we’ve got plenty of enthusiasm, and this close racing is keeping things interesting… time is flying by. Miles on the other hand? Not so much – still too many of those to go!
Thomas’ trivia question of the day: What car/truck manufacturer’s name starts and end with the same letter?
Groupama approaches, bearing 287-degrees, as seen through a pair of binoculars. 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