'It feels a bit like the last supper; the table has been set and we're waiting for the wind to arrive,' writes Amory Ross, Puma Ocean Racing's Media Crew Member (MCM), in a nicely written onboard report. 'Everyone's going about life today with a general casualness, trying to enjoy each waning moment of calm before the weather changes for the worse. In the back of our heads we're mindful of the forecast and the tough conditions ahead – 40 to 50 knots are very possible – but it's far from evident in the onboard mood.'
While all the teams brace for the inevitable pounding that's headed their way, Team Sanya has the unfortunate complication of having sort out their boat after a broken rudder allowed water to enter the aft compartment. 'The rudder snapped in between the boat and the deck, which is just the worst thing that can happen because then it just leverages itself off he boat and leaves a pretty messy trail,' said the team's skipper, Mike Sanderson. Until the rudder damage struck, Sanya was leading the pack; now, they are heading back to New Zealand to make repairs. 'We're just gutted, it hasn't even quite sunk in for sure.'
Team Sanya crew sealing the starboard rudder bearing after sustaining damage during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Andr?s Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
While emotions range from 'electrified to terrified', as Camper Team New Zealand's (ENTZ) Hamish Hooper eloquently noted, the one constant is that experience breeds confidence. 'Without a doubt the best sailing in the world is downwind sailing in the Southern Ocean, no question about that,' said, Stu Bannatyne, a six-time VOR participant and ENTZ's co-skipper. 'We're about to get a bit of it. Our tactics for sailing from here to Cape Horn—be safe and go fast.'
While positions and fortunes will no doubt change as the fleet slingshots towards the Horn, the usual suspects are all up front, namely Telefonica, Groupama, ENTZ and Puma Ocean Racing. Leader-board positions are changing with each new position update, and all four of these teams are now reporting speeds in the mid-20s, so—with a bit of luck—the situation is ripening for a team to set a new 24-hour distance record for fully crewed monohulls. Chances are beyond excellent that the next week or so will see some of the most exciting sailing of this entire edition, so stay tuned for updates as they develop, and check out this issue for tons of great VOR-related media.
Bolero blasting toward the finish line at St. David's Lighthouse in the 1956 Newport Bermuda Race. Courtesy of Bermuda News Bureau
And for sailors who love a great read about a wild Corinthian-spirited offshore race, be sure to check out John Rousmaniere's great article that explains how the storied Newport-Bermuda Race earned its distinctive alternative moniker as the 'Thrash to the Onion Patch'. While Bermuda's famous crop explains the second half of the name, the Gulf Stream and its sometimes-wild conditions bespeak the use of the word 'thrash'.
'Consider, for example, the 2002 race,' writes Rousmaniere. 'Early on, a cold northeaster pushed the 182 boats at high speeds into the Gulf Stream, which proceeded to fulfill its reputation as a dangerous weather-maker by churning up black squalls punctuated by waterspouts. Then things really got nasty when the northeast wind gave way to a force 6-7 southwesterly blowing right into the teeth of a long, powerful southbound eddy reaching almost to Bermuda.' The 2012 Newport-Bermuda Race starts on June 15.
In One Design news, the 2016 Equipment Trials for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition are taking place in Santander, Spain through the weekend. Here, sailors and ISAF officials are evaluating equipment for the Women's Skiff and Mixed Multi-Hull events. Check out the report and embedded video of the different skiffs, inside.
Day 4 Race 5 - Finn European Championship 2012 Robert Deaves /IFA
Also, if you're of the smartphone persuasion, ( I wonder who is not these days?) be sure to read about PredictWind's new iPhone and Android app. Also, the Clipper Around the World Race fleet has now crossed the International Dateline and has entered the Western Hemisphere, en route to Oakland, California. And the racing action is hot at the Finn class' Junior and Senior European Championship, which is taking place in Scarlino, Italy.
Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta Ingrid Abery /copyright
And finally, for anyone needing a taste of the Caribbean sun, check out the wrap-up report from the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta, which was recently hosted at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda's Virgin Gorda Clubhouse.
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