by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 17 of Leg 6. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Crew and weight stay forward while drifting in light winds off Eleuthera. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'Kelv, you’ll have more fun at Disney World than your kids will. You should definitely go.' Jono Swain.
I honestly wonder if I’ll be writing another one of these this leg… 48 hours ago I would have guessed we’d finish sometime on Wednesday. 24 hours ago I would have told you we’d finish on Wednesday. 12 hours ago I would have even gone as far as to say 2 p.m., local time. My oh my, how quickly things can change!
So it’s 4 p.m. and all is good. We’re cruising around Eleuthera on our way to the first turning mark, sailing at 10 knots in 7-9 knots of breeze, and we’ve opened up a nice gap of 15 miles or so on Camper. We can no longer see them on the horizon and are again feeling good about our chances to extend a little more. We aim for the beach expecting a header, but instead find a long line of windless convergence and we stop, dead in the water. After a quick gybe and a quick regroup, we again attack the convergence line with a different sail, this time punching through to the stronger breeze on the other side. But life over there isn’t so rosy and we eventually run out of wind. Helllllo Camper.
Again they appear in the distance, and again they get larger. At this point we’re watching them sail down to our line in utter amazement. We’re drifting in complete glass-off conditions, there’s not a ripple on the water, and all eyes are on the advancing red sails… but instead of punching through as we did, they decide to gybe and sail parallel to the line, now aiming offshore (probably after seeing our troubles further inshore). So we begin the process of mentally preparing for the worst; we’re going to have to watch them sail out and around us as we drift helplessly, unable to do anything about it.
Fortunately, they too ran out of wind, and hours later near sundown, our sails filled and we able to resume sailing towards the mark. At the time of writing we’re contentedly moving again at 11 knots. Camper is still too close for comfort, only 10 miles back, but that’s going to be life as we know it for the last 150 miles or so to the finish, and we’re going to have to get used to it; they refuse to go quietly. But as shown by the last week of variable sailing, things can change awfully quickly around here, and with more islands, the Gulf Stream, and a metropolitan coastline in front of us – nothing is guaranteed, not even finishing tomorrow!
Bowman Michi Müller tends to a furled sail on its way to the tip of the rig. 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