by Ken Read
Volvo Ocean Race – Leg 6 day 12. Skipper Ken Read reports from onboard Puma’s Mar Mostro.
Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
Our little joy ride of the past several days has quickly come to a screeching halt! Uggggh. The painful reality is setting in that the final 1,400 miles is going to be a light air crapshoot. Got to be lucky; got to be good. And, did I say you have to be lucky as well? The piece of wood on the nav station desk is going to get worn out. I can see it now. Biggest injury to report on this leg will be splinters from 'touching wood.'
All too often in this race the leaders have been worn down by the weather. For sure we have been the recipients of this phenomena when behind, but at the same time it seems like we have been the victims often as well. I guess the last leg is the ultimate example of the leader getting caught up in lighter winds as the trailers come roaring in hot and heavy. Telefónica made up 400-plus miles in the last week of Leg 5 to make the finish just a bit too close for comfort.
This leg is slightly different where as there are no clear-cut leaders at this stage. We have warded off the constant attack from Camper and Telefónica to date but the roulette wheel of who is ahead and behind is about to start spinning. The trade winds of the Caribbean and Bahamas are non-existent.
We have already split apart a hundred or so miles laterally, mainly due to the fact that there are squalls everywhere and you have to play in the breeze that you are in. They both had right-hand breeze for six hours when we had an extreme left-hand breeze, and sure enough we are incredibly far apart in a very short period of time. All bets are on the table.
Add to the mix that our normal 3-hour position reports starting having big glitches from Volvo headquarters starting this morning just as things were getting dicey, so it was even harder to keep track of each other. The perfect storm of separation on the racetrack.
All good on board…although it is a big roller coaster. A big header and some breeze and there is a sigh of relief as you head for the mark. A light air lift and there is certainly some tension on board as to our positioning on the racetrack. It is only normal.
So we will continue on with our Russian roulette game and hope that our side wins in the end just as our competitors are hoping that their side wins out. The sailing we did up to now was amazing, at high speeds, nip and tuck for days at a time. All for naught, really. The leg may be won or lost on a squall at this stage.
Volvo Ocean Race website