by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 5 of Leg 7. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Ryan Godfrey trimming to leeward near sundown. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'This is looking more and more like a true Atlantic crossing, headed north – 400 miles from the ice gate,'– Ken Read.
Whatttaleg eh? Just when things look to be settled, just when places and positions look to be secured for a little while, you have a day like yesterday that turns everything on its head. Our morning started near the bottom of the leaderboard, maybe a little bummed to be there but positively motivated to claw our way back. Groupama and Telefónica looked launched, again, and pretty poised to lead the long procession east. But at some point things changed, and with it, so too did the complexion of this race.
The impact player here is the high-pressure system to our northwest. We didn’t think we could beat it east so we aimed north, for a point that would minimize its passing effects. Soon after daybreak we sailed up to Camper and Abu Dhabi, also doing the same. Groupama and Telefónica sped off to leeward, probably thinking they could outpace it to stay in the better breeze, effectively cutting the corner. So now there were two distinct groups, and that is always a confidence-shaking thing to see happen. But Groupama bailed mid afternoon to come back our way – a positive sign – while Telefónica put their bow down even further. Holy smokes…those guys were alllll alone, and that’s a wild thing for a race leader to do!
Putting actual positions aside, these developments – unexpected and sometimes incomprehensible – can cause quite a stir. Typical watch routines have you getting up out of your bunk, dressing for the conditions, and then going to the nav station for a pre-watch race update before going up for your four-hour stint. How have the last four hours been, who’s doing what, who’s going where, what have we been steering, etc, etc… Yesterday’s fleet reshuffling completely changed the onboard vibe. Each new watch change brought more 'ooh’s and ahh’s,' and 'did you see this, or did you see that??' This is exciting for us, to be back in this race, and every three-hour sched brought more fascination and excitement at the prospect of seeing two of the race leaders dragged off into a different area code, a place we didn’t exactly see the benefit in going. It was a lifting feeling, and we fed off of it for sure.
Unfortunately Camper and Abu Dhabi were just a bit higher than us and managed to sneak away in slightly better pressure, but that’s okay – there’s plenty of course left to reel them in. The bigger news and more important story was always going to be the guys to leeward. They’ve both come our way now and will re-join the rest of us from the back of the fleet, but man… whatttaleg! This is fun stuff.
Tom Addis and Ken Read contemplate weather and strategy from the nav station. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
Puma Ocean Racing website
Volvo Ocean Race website