Volvo Ocean Race: Looking for a break in the Doldrums

An approaching thunder cloud from Camper during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

With over 2300nm to go to Auckland, or just 40% of the distance left to sail, Hamish Hooper blogs from on board Camper on Leg 4 of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race:

Right now we are just over 1°north of the equator and just like that- it’s hot.

I woke up this morning and it was like waking up in a tent having had the hot morning sun beating down on it for several hours, except unfortunately you can’t as easily escape the heat on board the boat. Anything you do leaves you literally dripping in sweat. The bad news is Will Oxley tells me the thermometer will probably continue to rise until we get south of 8° south of the equator.

We will be crossing the equator in the next 12 hours probably- the guys keep asking me am I ready for the equator crossing this time, I thought I had all of that behind me. I simply told them I won’t wait for the spray glue to fight this time… I think, and hope they are just having me on.

Navigator Will Oxley takes a call on the Inmarsat satellite phone onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

As always it will be a great feeling to be back in the southern hemisphere and just one more milestone to tick off which takes us closer to home.

Although at this rate we don’t really want home to come too quickly as we need all of the runway we can to get back in this race.

We have had a good few hours this morning of sailing consistently fast and took some good miles out of the other boats. Just a few more of those skeds and we will be right back in this race. If only it were that easy.
As usual Will and Nico have been spending hours in front of the nav computers looking at upcoming landmarks, weather patterns, currents and just about any and everything that could give us a jump back that we need.

Daryl Wislang getting undressed having come off watch onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

The upcoming doldrums are a different beast to what they were in the Atlantic. The Pacific doldrums look like they will have a fairly good consistent breeze through out, but the danger lies in the massive thunderstorms in these parts of the ocean. The true telling will be which boats can make it through the gauntlet of thunderstorms unscathed. As we have proven, one small problem and miles are unceremoniously eaten up by the fleet- much like a Volvo sailor devouring a Burger Fuel burger upon finishing this leg.

Quiz question: 'What is the total area of the Pacific Ocean?'

We latched on to a thunderstorm earlier this morning and it was an exhilarating experience on deck. The guys on watch just managed to put a reef in the main before it hit and the breeze all of a sudden was blowing 35knots and CAMPER took off flying along at 28 knots across the Pacific Ocean. Stu Bannatyne was on the wheel fighting for dear life keeping it under control in the blizzard of white water spraying across the boat.
He turned to me afterwards with a massive grin and said, 'Did you enjoy that Hamish?'- I think I did…

Skipper Chris Nicholson ducks into a wave onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

'Well you should try it in darkness tonight!'

Yeah… um…I have a pretty busy schedule in the hours of darkness thanks Stu.

If only we could be doing 28 knots all of the time we would run down the leading boats and be into the Hauraki Gulf in no time.
Coincidentally the Hauraki Gulf is Salty’s favourite thing about Auckland. He has probably almost spent more time on the Hauraki Gulf that on land in Auckland itself.

GOLDEN QUOTES: 'These thunder clouds pack a huge amount of power so you have to be constantly monitoring them to get the most out of them and avoid any potential damage, which is not what we need right now.' Stu Bannatyne

Thumbs up from Mike Pammenter to a good sked report onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Mike Pammenter and Adam Minoprio putting in a reef onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©
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