by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 1 of Leg 8. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Windy upwind conditions on the morning of day 1, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
This whole race restart thing is getting easier and easier with every leg. The routine begins with the In-Port Race’s finish on Saturday, and it ends the second we leave the dock on Sunday; there is a lot that has to happen in between those two times. For example, there are six or seven days of food to pack, personal gear to sort, air freight and race-ending logistics to organize, families to see, and of course, a Volvo 70 named Mar Mostro to fill with a complete offshore inventory of spares, maintenance equipment, toilet paper, 'foulies,' and sails.
Thanks to an amazing shore team, some well-rehearsed preparation, and a little bit of luck, things yesterday went smoothly enough to allow us to relax a little on the way out to the course. I cannot overstate the value of a clear and calm conscience when you’re about to leave for weeks at sea; it makes an enormous difference.
We went out on the river, did our reconnaissance, ate our lunch, and nailed the start. It was as simple as that, and while the Lisbon lap was more or less a procession from there, the guys hit every manoeuvre with the kind of efficiency and effectiveness you’d expect from a team that has been racing together for over a year. Great chemistry and a positive attitude go a long way too.
So here we go. Leg 8 of 9, the last 1,000-plus leg on the table. There’s no hiding the significance... We haven’t missed the podium since China and knock on wood that consistency continues, because the remaining points are in short supply. We’re trying not to get too caught up in the 'how many points to who' game – it would be too easy to do – because in an ocean race covering isn’t always an option and thinking that way is more distracting than anything else. The rational thing to do is sail the boat as fast as we know how, be tactically aggressive while minimizing risks, and hope for success.
Right now we’ve got all of the players in play; Camper and Groupama are close to leeward, Telefónica even closer to windward. It’s a sight we better get used to, day and night. Boatspeed kills and sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t. Survival will be about shortening the downs and lengthening the ups, and on the short trip out to the Azores that’ll be key. Once there and the expected high-pressure slow-up begins, who knows what will happen, but that has nothing to do with what we’re doing now!
It’s time to go hike a little harder, sleep a little less, and enjoy each and every day out here. They too are numbered, and in all of this competitiveness, having fun still remains a top priority for all.
12:00 AM beginning-of-watch briefing: 'One minute Camper’s masthead light was there (points to leeward and ahead), and Groupama’s was there (points to leeward and behind), and in about 15 minutes they completely swapped. They both changed modes and it happened almost immediately. We’re holding bearing on both at the moment, close to putting a reef in the main. Slightly overpowered in the puffs,' Tony Mutter.
Casey Smith trims the main while Kelvin Harrap provides the muscle, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
Puma Ocean Racing website
Volvo Ocean Race website