by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 10 of Leg 7. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Brad Jackson smiles at the wheel. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'It’s getting a bit mushy wushy out here…' Brad Jackson (Kiwi for: light, leftover chop).
Five hundred miles to go and this race is only getting closer. Not exactly a surprise – we knew everyone was going to compress again – but what is a surprise is the kind of day we had yesterday: it was slow, sloww, slowww. After a few consecutive days of feeling fast, a humbling 24 hours brings us all back to reality, and maybe for the better.
You might think performance on these boats is formulaic – at a given wind speed, point of sail, and sea state the boat is tuned to a certain preset and that’s kind of that, right? But the truth is that confidence plays a big part in boat setup and boat speed, and having or not having the confidence to know when to change, to admit you’re slow and not just blame it on the conditions, that’s going to be a big part of anyone’s success. And thankfully, after a tough day that would shake anyone’s confidence in setup and speed, we closed out the night with a winning sched. The guys went back to the books and made some small but significant-in-summation changes…put the board down further, put the water back in the stern ballast, changed staysail combinations. Thankfully the boat responded. Not always the case, but happy to have a good one in there, as we sure needed it!
So now we again look east, only with much less room to breathe. Abu Dhabi has always been in our sights but we’re clearly more invested in the guys nibbling at our tail; there is more to lose against them than there is to gain against Abu Dhabi. So the question remains: do we approach the remaining miles on the defensive or the offensive? Some of the trailing boats appear to be cutting the corner to Lisbon – sailing fewer miles certainly has its merits – but Tom is confident in our approach to this windless ridge now just a day away, and that deserves proper consideration, too.
The weather routing has us drifting by midnight tonight, and it will be interesting to see how everyone handles this final obstacle, turn Number four before the sprint down the homestretch to the finish. As much as it’s important to be in the right place, as we learned yesterday, it can be equally as important to have the confidence to make it work. We’ll spend today trying to build on last night’s small victories in hopes of carrying some good momentum into the tougher times ahead!
Casey Smith and Rome Kirby having fun on deck. 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