by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 11 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 braces for a watery wall of water by gripping the grinding pedestal. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
We continue to careen around the Pacific Ocean like an angry New York City taxi driver delivering a very-late passenger. One minute we’re skipping down the face of a wave only just on the edge of control, the next we’re slamming into a wall of water on the bow, bringing the boat to a head-jerking and body throwing halt, before repeating the cycle again and again. It’s fun, but it’s exhausting, and catching up on rest hasn’t been easy.
Sleeping on these boats is a bit of a mystery. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t; a lot of it depends on just how tired you are. When living conditions are at their absolute worst - you’re insanely hot, drenched to the core, haven’t gone horizontal in 12 hours and struggling to keep your eyes open – you can sleep anywhere, anytime. We all know the feeling. In those instances someone can be so 'out,' they sleep through anything. It takes a vicious shaking to wake someone like that up for their watch – borderline abusive behavior. They usually start talking about their crazy dreams or something only half coherent; I usually start making them a coffee.
A canopy of water heads for the sailors on deck. 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)
But the other 90% of the time, when you’re just tired (or even really tired), sleeping can be hard. The boat is loud… rock concert loud… it’s like trying to sleep inside a drum set. The boat is unpredictable. Your body gets acclimated to one thing, and then it’s completely upended when you find yourself being pulled in the opposite direction. The air is bad. It’s either excruciatingly hot, or bone-chilling cold, and never dry. Everything is wet – your pillow, your air mattress, your hair. It smells… people are moving and talking everywhere… you only get four hours, but not always… You get the idea. Sleeping is tough.
Fortunately, when the sailing is as exciting as it is now, everyone has something to get up for! So we all roll out of our bunks, put on our (very wet) wet weather gear, head on deck, and continue to chase down the French, 80 some-odd miles off the bow.
Puma Ocean Racing website