by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 4 of Leg 3. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Switching the sail stack from side to side before a tack is an all-hands-on-deck maneuver. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Wouldn’t you know it? We’re back on top of each other again. After our first two tacks of Leg 3 last night, everyone’s bunched up and best trying to pick through some unexpectedly shifty winds on the way to Sumatra and the Malacca Strait.
At around 2AM UTC we were the most leeward boat with Groupama, Camper, and Telefónica (the miracle workers) all in sight, above and slightly behind, and now at day break and after a few more tacks we find ourselves as the most windward boat in a fairly significant 'right hand' shift. It’s a good place to be, the windward boat on the lifted tack, but the breeze has to go left eventually and we’re in a holding pattern until it does. Timing for what could be our last tack east is critical: we want to minimize the distance sailed, but maximize our time on the new lifted tack.
Short tacking the last 400 miles of this 'first stage' was not what any of us envisioned, at least not based on the weather information we previously had, but it’s provided some reviving interest among the crew, and a bit of tactical activity to get the brains working again. Sailing in a straight line for three days has a distinct dulling effect…
Otherwise, life rolls on fairly unchanged. It’s still hot as hell below, though the breeze has been building steadily (now at 17 knots), which means it’s getting a little wet on deck. A refreshing wave in the face helps to keep things cool, but with now-closed hatches, the moisture only makes things more humid and unlivable downstairs.
Watch partners Casey Smith and Brad Jackson share a coffee on the rail. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
Puma Ocean Racing website