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Mackay Boats

Volvo Ocean Race- Stood up on a date but not for long

by Hamish Hooper on 28 May 2012
Stu Bannatyne and his watch partner Adam Minoprio get ready to go on watch onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race

Hamish Hooper blogs from on board Camper mid-Atlantic in the Volvo Ocean Race:

Like being stood up on a date, the wind we had been expecting all day didn’t arrive- well, until much later in the afternoon.

But what’s worse it was like the date ran off with another man- bloody Abu Dhabi!

The breeze arrived for Abu Dhabi alright- and they have been clocking up the miles as fast as me in a Nascar burning rubber around the oval track.

For now they are 70 odd miles ahead, but we hope to bump into them again depending on what the unpredictable weather decides to do or possibly in the middle of a high pressure show stopping ridge between the Azores and Lisbon which has great potential to once again to provide more blood pressure moments- as if we needed any more.

But before we get there we have some other things to worry about- like Puma.

They are firmly in our cross hairs…again… They have been, as usual, very hard to reel in, but yesterday afternoon we made good gains on them.

While the breeze eventually was building up to close to 18 knots, Puma spent a lot of the day heading northeast all the while we were heading near enough to Lisbon. Will has been tensely waiting, looking for the right opportunity to get more north, then abruptly it was time and over we gybed and suddenly we started sailing into what Stu Bannatyne called, ‘washing machine conditions’.

The reason being Will placed right on the sport where we have 2 knots of current to assist our progress- genius! Unfortunately the wind is against the current makes the waves very short sharp messy and hard on the boat.

Luckily we are on this gybe for a good time not a long time. And when I say good- I mean hopefully eating into Puma’s lead.

I am sensing yet another ding-dong battle with Puma over the next couple of days. Hopefully we can egg each other on so much that the green and blue boats are kept at bay- but that is never easy. Always a threat from where ever they are.

All the boats are gradually gybing to their line to Lisbon, for a very fast couple of days of potentially 500+ miles per day…

Will tells me there is good possibility of a significant low front to bring 35 knots of wind- which to tell the truth was a little more that I hoped… As I said the other day be careful what you wish for… but at least it will be fast.

While on deck today Stu asked a random question- ‘Who is the greatest sportsperson ever?’
It’s a not and easy answer question… It kept us occupied for quite some time. And will probably continue to do so until we reach Lisbon.

On the topic of great sportsmen- unfortunately today we worked out that it could be Salty’s last day of cleaning on the boat in this race, because we rotate through our boat numbers each day of the leg.

Perhaps the most alarming thing about this is it illustrates how few days we have in this race and how scarce the points are in the race are becoming.

A sad day as Salty is by far the best cleaner on board this boat. There is barely a bit of internal carbon that misses his sponge.

He would make an amazing ‘hire a hubby’ if he chose to retire from sailing, but he has got way to many miles left in him yet.

GOLDEN QUOTE: 'After all the twists and turns of this leg so far, it still looks to be like the race will be decided in the ridge we have to cross before we reach the coast of Portugal.' WILL OXLEY

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