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Thread: 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race

  1. #141

    From The Boats November 20th




    Kissing with Capey
    Can you remember one of your first dates? At the end of your date you managed to grab a kiss.

    But the next date, if you thought you could pick up where you left off, and proceed immediately to tongues, then you were wrong. You just had to start all over again! That is how it is with our navigator Andrew "Capey" Cape.

    Capey is a living legend. Gerd-Jan Poortman says, "He has so much experience. He is requested for each race. Not only doe he have a lot of wit, but he also sails very well."

    "However, he is also notoriously difficult to interview. Witty and funny, yes - but once the red light of a camera is on, he crawls into his shell."
    So don't get me wrong: I do not want to kiss Capey. For a start, the man is drinking coffee all day. Bah! And onboard, some sailors only clean their teeth once a week.

    Then there's those big rough hands that so easily turn the winch handle around. No, kissing with HIM is not on my wishlist.

    BUT... when I went to interview him at the end of Leg 1, the Australian legend was like putty in my hands. I could ask him any question and he would answer talkatively.
    Let's just say that the stop-over in Cape Town seems to have drastically reduced my chances of "kissing" Capey.

    "Why is it so hard to start in Cape Town?," I ask in good spirits just before the start.
    "Big mountain between us and the wind," he mutters without looking into the camera.

    “And what is your tactic for the start of this leg?” I reply.

    "That's a f**king book of work, mate"

    ... I click my camera off. Capey grins at me: "First, bring me a bunch of flowers," I see him thinking.

    "You know," laughs Gerd-Jan Poortman. "Capey, he doesn’t show his love easily. You need to try and hug him first before kissing."

    Eight months to go. Whatever happens: I will conquer the heart of Capey.

    Stefan Coppers
    OBR, Team Brunel
    http://www.brunelsailing.net/en_UK/








    What a start !
    Well, safe to say that was a Volvo Ocean Race departure that will stay in our memories. With fluctuating winds from 0-40 knots we have an epic sundown as we sailed away from Table Mountain – who was also dressed for the occasion with a thick cloud hanging over the top.

    From where we were standing the start looked pretty epic, we cannot wait to see the footage but I guess that’s something that will have to wait. This little journey is going to take up to 22,24,28 days – perhaps even 30 ? At least that’s how many days food we have packed.

    "The goal was to be safe. We are not first, but we manage to get out of this without breaking anything. Now we can race." (Charles)

    And that’s exactly what we did. We raced within proximity of the fleet. After a lot of manoeuvres and trimming we’ve made our way to the front of the fleet, not great to watch but it did the job. We are still sailing upwind but the boat isn't bouncing too much.

    Have a nice day,
    Yann Riou
    OBR, Dongfeng Race Team

    http://www.dongfengraceteam.cn/






    I find myself once again adapting to a routine. This leg start was easier to find our groove, when you know what to expect it can be both and advantage and disadvantage.
    I woke on race day morning to Table bBy full of white roaring water, I knew there was 35+ knots out there (conditions you wouldn't even put your mother-in-law out in, no matter how much you disliked her) The fact that I had the experience of what its like to sail these boats in such conditions made it even more difficult for me. I definitely built this start up more in my mind. When we finally did leave the dock it was actually nowhere as bad as I was expecting.

    Our spectator boat threw us a little surprise also, we sailed by to see our supporters and they had a choir of singers kick up an inspirational tune to get us on our way. I have to say it was very surreal to have a choir singing at full belt as we circled them under one of the most iconic mountains in the world.

    Our start was far from ideal, technical issues caused us problems with furling the J2. Mistakes are and can be made when its blowing 35kts. We caught the pack very quickly as we all know Table Bay can be a cruel place to sail.

    Night fell very quickly and shortly we found ourselves following our usual patterns. Life becomes very simple again, 4hrs to work, 4hrs to sleep eat and rest (and that's if you can get the 4hrs).

    We are looking out our routing this morning and making decisions based on new weather models. So that’s it from me for my first short blog, no doubt I will have more information later when the first 24hrs at sea develops.

    Brian Carlin
    OBR, Team Vestas Wind
    http://teamvestaswind.vestas.com/






    I will not lie: I was pretty nervous to begin leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Mom called it ‘Stage Fright’); I think the whole team was pretty nervous. Here we are, having confidently completed the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race—after 27 days at sea!—in waters most of us are experienced sailing in, but now we are heading into unknown territory.

    Now, we are about to sail for another 25-30 day, and for some reason that feels a bit daunting. So, before the race began (when we were still on land), it was really hitting hard that we’re only at the beginning. But when the gun went off, those feelings all disappeared.

    What a start of Leg 2! It’s pretty rare to see wind gusts up to 40 knots, and an average wind speed of 25 knots, then no wind and total “park up” (all the boats stopped in one spot), and then back up to good breeze. However, the start of Leg 2 offered all the wind conditions you could want.

    Corinna Halloran
    OBR, Team SCA

    http://www.teamsca.com/







    Well, now we know what it feels like to be shot from of a cannon! That was utter insanity. When the gun went I think there was almost no wind at all—two knots or something—but as we slowly crept out from under the shadow of Table Mountain it changed drastically and we were soon reaching off towards the first mark in almost 40 knots. Zero to one hundred, of sorts, and then back to zero, and then we were off again to the south. It was all a lot of fun but there’s no question—things were fairly marginal! “Full fever,” as they say [somewhere] in Australasia…

    Truth be told, that was probably the most dramatic way to leave Cape Town that anyone could have drafted up, like, in the history of leg departures. So unbelievably memorable. Absolutely ripping around Table Bay with the huge spectator fleet in tow, the sheer amount of water over the deck--all within their view--the closeness of the competition, and of course—the scenic backdrop: Table Mountain with the famed “table top cloud” washing down its flank. One of those things that I will never forget. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s clarity during moments like those that I know I’ll never have doing anything else. Hard to imagine ever moving on from this race.

    But here we are! Already tired, somewhat wet, and definitely salty. Safe to say that the dust is shaken and we’re all pretty settled after a start like that. We’re now in our upwind mode, pretty quick into our routines, and excited for a good (long) leg in front of us here. As much as we enjoyed our time in lovely Cape Town we’re all pretty psyched to be back on the water again, psyched for the next opportunity to prove what we’re made of. “Hammer down,” as they say [somewhere] in America.

    Amory Ross
    OBR, Team Alvimedica
    http://www.teamalvimedica.com/





    http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/virtualeye.html




    Two weeks ago, when Cape Town welcomed us with open arms, we would’ve had no idea it would send us away with such a fierce goodbye. With winds gusting in Table Bay up to 40 knots, the splash around the in-port portion of the Leg 2 start was some of the hairiest sailing we’ve seen yet. Juxtapose those conditions with a magnificent view of Table Mountain at dusk and the scene was surreal—even if we were getting sandblasted in the face with cold water every wave.

    Starting another 25+ day leg isn’t easy for the guys, especially when you’re the last boat around the course looking at everyone’s stern. However, Ian was more than happy to play such a wicked start conservatively so as not to break anything.
    “You didn’t hear anyone in Cape Town talking about the start in Alicante”, said Ian. “We kind of knew the start was going to be pretty irrelevant so we decided to save our gear and cruise around. We saw both Mapfre and and SCA gybe onto their runners so I wouldn’t be surprised if they broke their main sail battens. Vestas might have damaged their J2. Still we feel relaxed…maybe too relaxed.”
    As the sun set, the towering coastline of South Africa lit up into colors of pink and orange as clouds fell over the cliffs. We began picking off boats slowly as our position at the back of the fleet enabled us to view the breeze down course as it played off the sails of the other boats ahead.

    Perhaps a bit of prophecy, but before the start of the race, our guest on-board, Francois (can’t spell his last name please help), Captain of the South African Springbok Rugby Team, had reminded Ian, “Remember, the only thing better than winning, is coming from behind to win.”


    Matt Knighton
    OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
    http://www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com/



    Hi everyone, here we are back onboard Mapfre in Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi. I hope that with this blog I can transport you to our boat for a little while before your day starts.
    First and foremost, the whole crew would like to thank the offshore team for leaving the boat in perfect conditions for this new phase. To each and every one of them, a big hug and thank you!
    What a great start! 40 to 0 knots, full main, curls, J3, J2, J1, MH 0. All this in less than 1 hour after the start. An incredible atmosphere, and brilliant conditions.
    The sun has set, and we are heading south with the rest of the boats in sight. Great mood onboard, the evening is almost perfect except for a few clouds which cover the sun.
    The focus of the evening was to head south and fast, we needed to get away from the coast and variable winds.
    The two new crew members Jean Luc and Rob adapted perfectly, it shows that they have great experience and act naturally on board.
    Jean Luc had a small cut on his finger while stacking, but it is not serious and there was no need to call the doctors on land.
    On the other hand the boat feels good, feels fast upwind, and most importantly there's lots of smiles onboard.

    Francisco Vignale
    OBR, MAPFRE
    http://desafiomapfre.com/en/



    November 19, 2014
    Francisco Vignale
    OBR, MAPFRE

    From the moment the wind started to increase, during the night, we’re drenched. Waves over the deck, constant spray, damped hands because of the water, wet clothes, tired faces, and the cold.
    That’s what we’ve experienced on MAPFRE on November 2.
    Things came to life, and appeared in the most unusual places. A good example is my media kit, with the cameras, lenses and accessories – it appeared at 4 in the morning, on windward, at the bow.




    Much like the anticipation for the arrival of the first big snowfall, for weeks we have been “patiently” waiting to arrive to the Southern Ocean—to sail in the fast, heavy conditions with the Albatross. Now it’s a reality and it’s like a dream come true for all of us. Coupled with the excitement of gaining hour by hour on the leading boats, we’ve been like little kids playing in the snow. Today, we’ve been on cloud nine.
    The waves out here are, as promised, relentless. Over and over again, cold waves crash over the bow, jumping over the cabin top, crashing into the cockpit, and bouncing off winches and sailors before heading back off the boat. Sometimes, when the foam splashes up it reaches five feet in the air. There’s water everywhere.

    We’re sailing with one of our biggest sails, the A3. We’re sailing in good pressure, keeping the boat averaging speeds of 19 knots. We’re surfing over and down waves. It’s simply amazing to be outside, sailing amongst the Albatross and other sea birds.

    November 19, 2014
    Corinna Halloran
    OBR, Team SCA
    Last edited by PD Staff; 11-20-2014 at 04:24 PM.
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  2. #142
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    On Board SCA




    Team SCA has been battling the last of the Agulhas current overnight which brought big and confused seas, it has been a tough day with some big lessons learnt and they are putting the learning into practice as they close the gap on the fleet ahead. The boat is now sailing fast covering over 500 miles in the last 24 hours!
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  3. #143
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    Aboard Dongfeng



    The team hit rough seas as they cross the Agulhas Current. Totally worth watching just to see Pascal Bidégorry's face at 1'39!
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  4. #144
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    On Board Alvimedica



    Team Alvimedica continues to lead the pack in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. Racing at an average of 25 knots, this is were the excitement and adrenaline start to build up!
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  5. #145

    10 Selects From 1st 2 days of Leg 2


    Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race



    Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race.



    Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race



    Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race.



    Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind



    Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race



    Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race



    Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind



    Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race.



    Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel
    Pressure-drop.us ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  6. #146

    On Board Reports November 21

    The Indian Ocean spares nobody. The wind bashes 28 knots and 24 knots speed on the counter. Every ten seconds, Team Brunel drills into a tower high wave.
    Masses of water flowing over the deck. The safety line is vital to protect crew from sweeping off the boat. Several times the line rescues slithering men on deck. Not only on deck is it wet - in the hull it is an aquarium.

    This doesn’t spoil the fun and high spirits on the boat of Team Brunel: eight smiling faces.

    And one green face. The face of the author of this extremely short piece.
    See you tomorrow.


    Stefan Coppers
    OBR, Team Brunel





    http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/virtualeye.html



    Since yesterday morning to navigate the conditions has been fantastic. Heading southeast, MAPFRE is eating miles.

    It's just how it was in Leg 1 - all the boats are together and we can see each other. Alvimedica at our bow, Dongfeng, Abu Dhabi and SCA to our stern.

    The current is doing 5 knots, and due to that, the deck was like a submarine. Lots of water on deck, and inside the ship. The last 24 hrs has been about bailing and trying to keep the boat in order as much as possible. But life is hard and everything jumps around in all directions.

    We're all getting into the routine slowly - little sleep - and that's felt more when there are such conditions.

    At night, Ñeti was sleeping in the bunk above mine and a wave that blew the broke boat fasteners on the network that are glued and screwed to the wall. He ended up on me and holding it to avoid breaking the other.
    Last night the wind held and we have an occasional wave surfed at 30 knots, 20 to 25 knots south going east. After this the conditions will be drier, less windy and the sea calmer.


    Francisco Vignale
    OBR, MAPFRE




    "We are not the king of the road right now!" (Charles)
    For quite a few hours now, we can’t work out how to go faster, even to go the same speed as the others. It was the same thing for part of yesterday, and we can’t work it out. And now we’re in the Agulhas current. Wind against tide, a very messy sea state. Very uncomfortable conditions, although we are used to this. The night was a bit complicated, we took some water on board due to a hatch on deck not being completely closed, that probably lost us a mile. We’re trying to get it back, but we can’t !

    Living at 23 knots [of boat speed]

    Acceleration, brutal stop, heel from one side and then to the other suddenly. Life at 23 knots is stressful. When you are on deck, you manage to understand partly what is, and what is about, to happen. But inside the boat, its impossible to anticipate the movement of Dongfeng. During the night I wanted to make myself something to eat. I poured the yoghurt powder in to my bowl. At this precise moment the boat stopped suddenly as it plowed in to a wave. I had to let the bowl go and hold on to whatever I could to avoid becoming part of the forward bulkhead [the carbon fibre ‘structural wall’ in front of the galley area]. The bowl for its part though flew through the air, making sure it spread the powder everywhere it could on its way. Result : 15 minutes of cleaning, whilst carefully balancing myself. Annoyed, and the start of a weight watchers diet…

    Yann Riou
    OBR, Dongfeng Race Team
    Go to team website




    We have had the quietest 24hrs onboard Vestas Wind with comparison to the first leg. The team has just fallen into the previous patterns, sleep, sail, repeat.
    It began as a very relaxed day, beginning with our position in the fleet, which almost felt irrelevant as we can see all the boats around us. I think my expectations were so bad for the first 24hrs I had myself convinced things were going to be tougher than they were.

    I also felt pressure to deliver another leg of videos, photos and blogs; pressure I’ve never had previously. I suffer a lot in the first couple of days to find my routine again and some rhythm to life onboard. While I was green to what expect previously I now know what I didn’t know.

    The first little incident of the day was our torn mainsail. We are certain the violent gybe we had during the in-port leg of the start has caused this damage. Tom (sail maker) quickly got to work with Peter to get repairs underway. When all the patches were ready and glue beginning to set it was time to drop the main and patch it up. The main being down did cost us some time, we are not sure exactly but its never ideal. A necessary evil and just as well as it was long before we encountered a building sea state and winds.

    The Agulhas current was always going to be a stretch of water we needed to cross, today was that day. It’s arguably the strongest of ocean currents going northeast to southwest off the South African coast. Most shipping nowadays avoids this area as too many ships get damaged here, well I lie, they sink!

    We had our day in the sun too, the breeze was back to its reliable 20-25’s and we where back in some familiar territory, WET CLOTHES! These boats are very wet at these speeds but it’s a tough one to call, its rough and impossible to do much without great effort but going fast in the right direction is really good too.

    So for now the sun begins to set and SCA is to leeward of us, Nicolai is driving fast, very fast and we think it’s not long now before we can roll over the top of them. Despite the girls begin competition it’s nice to see other boats close around you. We are the only one’s mad enough to be out here today.

    Brian Carlin
    OBR, Team Vestas Wind





    To summarize the last 24 hours in one word: change. The weather, the water, the sails, and our bodies are all equally (and rapidly) changing. The first full day at sea, we have experienced what some trips see in a week—if they’re lucky enough. However, that said, change can also be frustrating.

    Our bodies are taking a massive hit right now as we try to get used to life offshore again. We’re all exhausted, and the conditions are not helping—everything is labor intensive—from cooking to getting dressed to grinding and helming. The sea state is pretty rough as well: sloppy and big.

    However, the day did not begin like that. Actually, quite the opposite really: warm bright, blue sea and sky, reasonable wind but nothing intense—simply livable conditions. Now, comfortable living is long gone.

    We have changed sails multiple times in order to make the most out of the wind, and making sure we eke out in front of Vestas Wind, who have been sitting all too comfortably next to us.

    Fortunately, all of this will probably change back to somewhat more comfortable living in the next few days, or our bodies will finally acclimatize to living back on Team SCA!


    November 21, 2014
    Corinna Halloran
    OBR, Team SCA
    Go to team website




    The fast southeast sailing continues but where excitement and adrenaline began—discomfort has taken over. We’re seeing an average of about 25 knots of wind but the sea state is making life somewhat miserable!

    We first crossed the Agulhas current, a large south-moving stream of warm water originating in the Indian Ocean late yesterday, but ever since leaving the main volume of moving ocean we’ve been [literally] bouncing through gyres, boils, meanders, eddies—whichever you like to say most—of twisting ocean and it doesn’t seem to matter which way the current is heading, it’s moving strongly enough to make the waves stack up in all kinds of random directions. It is a hazardous path to travel as the boat is moving fast and unpredictably, and there are some fairly sudden and violent crashes.

    Working is hard—it’s taken me the better part of an hour just to write this much—eating is harder (nobody is going near the freeze dried) and even the little things like pouring milk powder in a bowl for a dab of cereal can go horribly wrong: Charlie’s just “had one,” and the galley looks like a scene from Scarface after the milk container decided to make a run for it.

    Amory Ross
    OBR, Team Alvimedica




    Whoever predicted we’d only have a few hours of intense weather at the start of the leg and that then it would abate should’ve extended their forecast. For the past 24 hours we’ve had the pedal to the floor getting thrashed about in 25-30 knots of wind. It’s the kind of thrashing that has left almost all the bags of food uneaten and the bowls of food that had been made have now spilled their orange contents on the floorboards.

    To start out the slugfest yesterday, we crossed through the Agulhas current; a nasty bit of water South of Africa that pushed 3 knots of waves into us creating a sloppy sea state.

    Having three other boats within visual range has given us a reference to gauge our performance relative to the other teams, however it’s also adding stress to the decision-making. There is an unfamiliar lack of chatter on board at the moment. Missing the sail change has reminded all the guys that each mile gained is not guaranteed.

    Everything is wet already, the boat stinks of indescribable smells—we weren’t at this point in Leg 1 until day 20! And yet, the guys push forward happy to point out that this isn’t as bad as it can be.


    Matt Knighton
    OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
    Pressure-drop.us ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  7. #147

    November 24 -25 Onboard Updates



    Bino’s and Undies

    We find ourselves glued to “Bino duty” as the Australians put it – for the rest of us normal people that’s a reference to binoculars. Alvimedica has been spotted just port side off the bow. It’s early UTC time but late afternoon here in the east. We have had a good sched recently, taking a minimum of 2 miles on the girls while chasing ADOR down very quickly with an 11-mile gain.
    We are approaching a ridge of pressure (you might as well start googling all these terms as we will have plenty of meteorological terminology coming the next couple of weeks) but to give you a quick explanation it’s simply a transition from one direction of wind into a new direction of wind. Once the wind starts to knock us or head (which is normally a bad thing in sailing terms) we will change course to sail north-northwesterly again. This change in direction is good as it allows us to travel a more direct line to Abu Dhabi. The change is imminent so we patiently watch the American/Turkish boat ahead to see what will happen.

    I asked Tom today did he feel anything different about this leg, he replied, “Ya one of the big changes this leg is ah, we are not going to Cape Town we are actually going to Abu Dhabi, that’s probably the biggest change.” I can at least confirm the sense of humour has not failed on this boat. He added, “It’s been easier to start and get back into it. Having done Leg 1 it’s easier to roll straight back into the routine so its all good so far.”

    Nicolai brought up a random conversation today and it’s the name we have for underwear. A couple of interesting facts not just about underwear but clothing in general on boats: we don’t have a lot of it. Personally for the first leg I brought three pairs of underwear, two shorts, two t-shirts, two pairs of socks, and of course a fleece lined jacket. That’s it for over four weeks at sea, oh we don’t wash anything either.

    What I love about this is when you arrive in port. All the families and friends are there waiting to greet you, what they seem to forget is that we smell, smell bad. No showers and two changes of clothes will make any mother do a double take on any close hugs! Mothers I have you warned for Abu Dhabi! Anyway I diverted slightly, we have a mixture of Danish, Irish, Kiwi, Australian, Dutch and Argentinian on our boat. You can imagine the dialogue and phrases can’t be any different (by the way before you ask; NO one and I mean NO one says “Top of the morning to you in Ireland, FACT), however the word for underwear varies.

    So Nico calls them Reggies, Salty calls them boxers, Trae says Undies and Tom rarely wears them! How did Nico find such a bunch of weirdo’s and what’s worse why do I end up writing about such utter rubbish… anyway I thought you might find it interesting what sometimes we discuss on the boat! Underwear is not a priority but sometimes crews get jealous when you take that extra fresh pair out Don’t get me wrong, personal hygiene is important and I’ll tell you all about how we keep the bodies clean in another post.

    Two Random Facts: 1. Having a couple of spoons of chocolate powder in your Muesli is the next best thing to a dessert for breakfast and 2. Having a Kit Kat and a coffee for breakfast breaks all the rules but who cares, my mother is 10,500 miles away (Mom I know I’m 30 years old but admit it you would not approve).So long for now Land People…

    Brian Carlin
    OBR, Team Vestas Wind








    “Shitty night”
    Laurent Pagès lets himself fall inside the boat. He is soaking wet. The day is starting outside: it’s pouring down and there is almost no wind.
    “This was my shittiest night in this Volvo Ocean Race,” says the Frenchman with a sense of drama. “I’d choose a storm over this any time.”
    On deck, Pablo Arrarte seconds his colleague’s feelings: “We’ve had a lot of clouds last night, looking full of wind. Every time, everybody went out of bed to change sails, but the only thing coming out of the clouds was rain. It was very dark: we could hardly see ourselves trimming the sails.”
    Gerd-Jan Poortman paid the bill in the end. “I was awoken five times. On deck, changing sails, not good again, changing it back. Yes, I can feel my hands! The good news is, we’re still running with the front pack.”

    Stefan Coppers
    OBR, Team Brunel








    Stable instability
    This morning the difference between being on watch and off watch is pretty small. It’s a bit like doing a sail change every time we see a new cloud – and we’ve seen a lot of them!
    “Everybody on deck, we must be ready to manoeuvre at any time.” Charles

    I heard this phrase several times. Better off being on watch rather than off watch – at least you don’t spend your time going up and down, and just hope that you might get some rest at the end of your watch. A forlorn hope for some, with everyone trying to move our machine forward as fast as possible.
    The moment of truth

    It is 0600 UTC, but as Charles says, it’s actually 0700 UTC, the real hour of truth. This is when we receive the six hourly position report.
    Before it arrives, Charles tells us, “We had rain clouds and squalls coming from every direction for the past few hours, and for sure that will have created some casualties. We’ll know in an hour when the position report arrives. And then most importantly there is an important tack to make, the timing of which could really effect the results, in particular for Abu Dhabi team.”

    Yann Riou
    OBR, Dongfeng Race Team





    It was nice having Dongfeng Race Team sailing alongside us all day yesterday. It’s just such a great thing, seeing these boats sailing neck and neck.
    For the last 24 hours, we sailed only half a mile apart with barely any changes. The reason I like it so much is probably because I’m not steering the boat, otherwise, if I had to struggle to get the boat to go one inch faster, constantly looking what the other boat does, it’d probably feel like torture.

    We didn’t have much wind in the morning, and life on board was just crazy, moving the stacking up and down the whole time. Each time the wind changed, we had to move stuff around.
    In the afternoon the wind picked up and we decided to tack as to head north, to Abu Dhabi, since the wind shift allowed it. Shortly after nightfall we could see Brunel windward of us. Dongfeng to leeward, to port, and further out in that direction Team Alvimedica.

    The night was pretty tough, sailing upwind in more than 23 knots of wind. We kept peeling from MH0 to FR and from FR to MH0. Showers, gusts of up to 26-27 knots, and the boat heeling a lot and sailing fast!
    With the first beam of sunlight, we tacked in a wind shift and as soon as it came back we tacked again. One of the watches didn’t get any sleep due to all these calls. They stayed on deck for seven consecutive hours, went for a two-hour rest and came back for four more hours.
    Life offshore is hard, wet and demanding!


    Francisco Vignale
    OBR, MAPFRE






    Cuisine de jour
    Oh freeze-dried food, how I have not missed you during our days in Cape Town.
    Today, I went where only a few people (plus the astronauts) have gone: freeze-dried ice cream. It wasn’t half bad, but as I explained to Sophie it’s something I’ll probably only need to try once… a year, if that. I’m unsure what confused me more, the fact that I was eating something “they” decided to call ice cream or the fact that the strawberries tasted only 40% real.

    Tonight’s dinner is “Chicken a la King.” First off—what is that? What King? I’m pretty sure no King in the whole wide world would eat this. It tastes kind of smoke-y and kind of lemon-y, which are two flavors I wouldn’t necessarily mix together. The ingredients read: “chicken 20%.” I’m uncertain if this means chicken only makes up 20% of the total meal, but then wait does it only mean the “chicken” pieces are make up of 20% real chicken? Obviously the first option seems the most logical, however if you simply looked at the cubed meat you might begin to doubt your gut. Or is it trust your gut in this case?

    We’ve been lucky with one brand of freeze-dried food where the meat is real meat, however this leg’s meat is far from real. Sophie describes it best: “this is the leg of squishy meat!” Yep, that’s right… you chew and chew for a long time as the “meat” squeaks between your teeth.

    How do I describe the “lamb”? Dare I start with the color? Which is more like grey with black dots. Ah yes, the rare spotted lamb meat, only found in packages! Similar to the 20% chicken, the lamb is cubed and indefinable We try very hard to not think about the non-lamb animals that make up the “lamb” in these meals.
    Food conversations generally go like this:
    “How was lunch Dee?”
    “The Moroccan Chicken was fine as long as you don’t look at it.”
    “Ah, you mean the Moroccan Lamb? Noted.”
    Or, when cleaning the dinner pot in the morning:
    “Oh so that’s what dinner was meant to look like! Not what I expected!”
    Or, the now famous quote from our coach, Brad Jackson, from the last Volvo Ocean Race:
    “I wouldn’t feed this to my dog.”

    Nonetheless, we can complain until the cows come home but there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s not like we can run to the shop and pick up something fresh or change brands of freeze-dried. And, to be honest, even if we could, I doubt we would.

    Food is fuel out here, it’s not necessarily meant to be ‘good’ per say. It’s amazing when freeze-dried food actually does taste like the real meat, but that’s almost like a treat. We have to eat in order to properly function, both within our own bodies and on deck. If we suddenly become food snobs then the boat’s performance goes down. Perhaps it’s a bit of a Catch 22.

    So we suck it up, eat the hot meal, and enjoy the trail mix and chocolate bars on the side. At the moment, we have an unbelievable type of flapjack on board—quite the treat with a morning mug of hot chocolate!

    So if the main meal is a bit dodgy (seriously, is it really lamb!?) then at least there’s dessert! (although I think I’ll be avoiding any thing called ‘ice cream’ from here on out.)

    Corinna Halloran
    OBR, Team SCA








    You’ll have to excuse the grogginess this morning; it was a long night. For all of you newborn parents out there complaining about the baby waking you up every few hours, you should give high-pressure passages a try. Everyone was “wet bunking” (climbing into your bunk still wet and in foul weather gear), up and moving about every 45 minutes last night as if on a fixed schedule.

    Rain squall after rain squall, sail change after sail change, stack adjustment after stack adjustment. Like Lionel Richie—all night long. Just when you start to get comfortable the call comes through the hatch to change something else. No snooze button to smack on that one… up and on deck, straight into the dark night.

    Thankfully things have settled for the time being, about 19 knots, and the guys are catching up on some needed sleep, but there’s talk of taking a reef soon as the wind is supposed to build. We’re approaching the first of a few difficult weather features in our future this afternoon, an area of low-pressure moving east off the coast of Madagascar, and though it’s not forecasted to bring more than 22 knots, it’s upwind and there’s always the potential to whip up something special.

    Which brings me to expectation management. It is going to be a big part of this leg. Not that we would ever expect worst-case scenarios, but in planning for near-worst-case you make sure you’re equipped to deal, mentally and physically, for whatever may come your way. We were expecting a light, windless day or two across the high. It never developed: bonus. We’re expecting a bit of a wallop later today and everyone’s into their own projects in prepping for it. Once through this we get some tradewind sailing straight towards a tropical depression. We’re obviously expecting a real tough time there, but thinking that way, not hoping for the best but expecting the worst, it helps to get yourself ready for it.

    Manage expectations and you’re rarely caught out. That’s kind of our theme for the next week—be smart, stay in touch and plan farther ahead, hopefully further than the rest. Trying to act older, wiser than our years, I guess!


    Amory Ross
    OBR, Team Alvimedica








    For the past two days, the South Indian Ocean has been quiet and void of any other boats as we’ve been sailing on our own with 60 nautical miles separating us and the rest of the fleet to the east. In a way it’s a stark contrast to when this part of the ocean used to be a busy trading route. Now, as we continue to sail north towards Abu Dhabi, there is nothing. No one sails down here anymore.
    If the split we’ve created pays out, one might argue it was intentional… but it wasn’t. We were really trying to gybe to get in touch with the fleet when we found out later they’d sailed further east.

    We’re playing our hand as fast as we possibly can and as the sun came up this morning and another sked came in, we were glad to see we’d had more breeze in the west and gained slightly on our competition. With any luck, we’ll be able to work over the top of them, or at the very least, come back together.

    “On the one hand it’s nice to have other boats around because you can pace yourself and learn more”, says Ian. “On the other, it’s nice being alone and not make decisions because of what the other boats around you are doing.”

    Always analysing the situation and talking things through he continues, “To be fair, we’ve done alright on this side, we’ve just had two slow patches which they didn’t have. Otherwise we’d be 50 miles up the track. If you play the whole thing through on the router we basically all come out the same.”


    Matt Knighton
    OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing


    ************************************************** *********








    The Indian Ocean calmed down. Endless high waves gave way to a flat ocean. On deck of Team Brunel the mood is relaxed. Four miles behind, the guys can see the front sails of MAPFRE and Dongfeng who’ve been trying, in vain, to take first position from the Dutch.

    In the slipstream of the yellow ocean racer, two albatrosses dance on the wind. The gigantic seabirds draw all attention away from the pursuers for a little while. Bekking, legs over the railing, sips coffee from the thermos. For minutes, his eyes follow the birds.

    “Incredible how beautiful the way they just skim over the waves.” He moves his arms showing how they float past the boat without a kick of the wings.
    “Jens is our albatross-man”, trimmer Rokas Milevicius calls out. “If he owned a pet it would be an albatross”. “Did you know albatrosses are deceased sailors?”, the Danish sailor says. “What a life! Travelling, flying: seeing the world! Yes I want to be an albatross…just not yet.”

    Stefan Coppers
    OBR, Team Brunel




    Our fifth night racing onboard MAPFRE, neck and neck with Dongfeng. We are less than a mile apart from each other, we can even see the expression on their faces. Until the sun set they were slightly ahead of us, we peeled from an A3 to a MH 0 but we definitely couldn’t pass them.

    They lifted me up the mast to check the wind and the sail setting they had in place. Really amazing view the one you get from 30m high. At 22:00 UTC Brunel was 8 miles ahead of us and Dongfeng to starboard and little by little we managed to move up. In the early morning, as early as 02:00 am UTC we had left them behind, so this race is being really exciting. It’s pretty intense sailing, you can feel their breath on your neck and how they are desperately trying to pass you. Again the wind was a bit unsteady and we had to put all the stacking in the aft.

    We changed breakfast, lunch and dinner time, cause the sun rises at 1:30 in the morning, and at 16:30 the moon is up in the sky, so now we’ll be eating following a more natural pattern, more adapted to the day light.
    The boat is going well, and we are thirsty for the win!

    Francisco Vignale
    OBR, MAPFRE





    I can’t be more thankful for such a dry day. Since we left it’s been wet above and below decks but by 10am local time the sun was out and so was our washing. I think everyone secretly enjoyed the slower pace today. Not only did the sun give us some valuable drying time it also lifts spirits, not to say they were down but 25 kts and grey skies are not quite the same as blue ones replaced by that orange round thing in the sky they call the sun.

    On a personal note I hit a best today. I’ve been somewhat out of sync since we left Cape Town, I’m not sure can I put my finger on it exactly. Perhaps like I mentioned the unknown is known so it takes something away from the experience. They say the first leg is the best and I’m beginning to understand that to a point. Nonetheless I found myself getting back to it so to speak. My goal is to become super fit physically before the end of the race and have committed to Tony Rae to do so.

    Today as my personal trainer, friend and fellow shipmate we accomplished a goal, 70 press-ups. I’m sure to some it maybe easy but I ask anyone of you right now sitting at your desk, hit the floor and give me 70 on the spot. I’m wondering how many of you stopped now to try and will continue this read. Of course the biggest challenge will come as we travel north and spend longer at sea my muscles will become weaker from a variation (lack) of diet and proper exercise but the goal is to get 100 press-up before Abu Dhabi. Can I do it? Keep checking in and I’ll update you all on the progress.

    The boat was a little out on its own the past 24hrs but we have gybed north into the lighter air but also back into the pack, we are deep within enemy territory fighting to get north and east to the trade winds. It’s such a difficult part of the world to navigate as so much is unknown and not much documented. Also the cyclone season is upon us, I asked Chris what do we do now that the routing and weather information is not as established in this part of the world, “I think we will have to deal with what weather that you have and factor in some of the area’s you need to go and we have been doing more or less that.

    The Doldrums I’ve been across here once before and they are pretty cool, well at least last time we had big storms and there is plenty to play for in that area anyway, so I’d be happy if that runs the same”

    Wouter added; “This used to be a very popular shipping route but with the opening of the Suez canal very little traffic is seen in these parts and hence the lack on weather observations in these parts”
    Tomorrow I want to have a proper catch up with the young fellas. The social hours have been cut down to a minimum at the start of the leg but I’m keen to get in the inside track on how Leg 2 is going thus far.
    Stay tuned land people - more from the Indian Ocean shortly…

    Brian Carlin
    OBR, Team Vestas Wind






    Team SCA has a super fan. She’s three and, at home, she has posters of Team SCA on her wall. As a member of the team, and as a woman in 2014, this is extremely cool. When I was three, I had posters of horses and “New Kids on the Block” on my wall. The fact that there is a little girl already aspiring to be like us means we are doing our job correctly.

    “This is not just about going out and winning the Volvo Ocean Race,” Libby said. “This is about something so much more, it’s about something bigger. When a three year old is interested, it’s like ‘wow this is really big.’ In sailing you’re so focused on crossing the finish line, but this is about so much more. It’s about changing way we think. If anything, it will start by changing how see women in sailing.”

    What’s so fantastic is Abby Ehler, Stacey Jackson, Sally Barkow, and Libby Greenhalgh are becoming household names for young women around the world. The women of Team SCA are neither the Beyoncés nor the Hilary Clintons of the world—they’re simply every day women.

    Yes, the women of Team SCA have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are today, however they enjoy cooking, a trip to the cinema, spending time with friends and family, eating chocolate, and so on. The women of Team SCA are real. What the women of Team SCA show all women, young and old, is that you can go out and achieve your dream—you can follow in our footsteps.

    Sailing is an international sport that is so often looked at ‘a wealthy man’s game.’ Sailing is not “mainstream” like basketball, football, or golf. Sailing is confusing and technical.

    However, the reality is: sailing is something anyone can do—especially if there’s a ‘learn to sail’ program in your area. Sailing is way cooler than mainstream sports because the sport sends their athletes into the front line, 24/7; you don’t see Michael Jordan sleeping on the basketball court!

    Sailing, at it’s most pure and simple form, is about the wind, the sea, and water

    What I’m getting at here is that sailing is a very cool sport, and little three year olds are interested in the sailors which means Team SCA has the power to change the world—through sailing. We have the power to not only share the love and the joy for the water, but we are role models who have the power to encourage the little girls out there to achieve their dreams. Yep, Libby is right, this is something big.

    Corinna Halloran
    OBR, Team SCA





    As Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing fights their way North in the light winds of a high pressure, for the first time the mood onboard “Azzam” can best be described as cautious. Leg 2 has already reminded us several times that in a race between one-design boats you’re as much at the mercy of the “wind gods” than anything else.

    Somewhat superstitiously, Daryl reflects, “We’ve had breeze the whole time, touch wood (as he pats his head) hoping they’re in a little light spot.”

    “This is the first day since we left Cape Town that you have the opportunity to dry your gear out and give your neck and wrists a break from the latex seals”, he continues looking at a deck strewn with wet weather gear, boots, and socks drying in the sun.

    After several breakages, many onboard are also keen to realize that any gains can be stripped away quite easily. Every hour now, someone is combing through the hull checking for any sign of wear. “We’ve not sailed brilliantly well”, says Ian. “We’ve had a few mishaps onboard and now we find ourselves a little bit on a limb with the fleet so a little bit nervous at the moment.”

    And then lastly, added in is the one-design element of this race. A narrow gap of experience is quickly closing every second the fleet spends more time racing the Volvo Ocean 65’s. We know it’s becoming more about the small performance details, our weather routing, and a dose of luck regarding who comes out ahead.

    While trimming the Main, SiFi agreed, “I think you discount any team at your own peril, I think everyone is pretty strong. Some guys are a little more consistent at the moment but already the level is very very high.”


    Matt Knighton
    OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

  8. #148
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    Separation Anxiety

    Whilst the pressure of super close racing continues onboard Dongfeng in the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, a technical problem on the mast of the Chinese entry has added to the stress for Charles Caudrelier and his crew. The problem is not fully repairable in the current upwind and bumpy conditions, and is certainly an issue of concern for the team. However until they need to reef the mainsail (move the mainsail up or down the mast), it should not effect short term performance.



    The metal mast track, on which the mainsail slides up and down the mast, has peeled away from the mast over a one metre section just under half way up the mast. There is the risk of this section of mast track pulling off completely or being damaged if loaded up at the wrong time. That would be the end of Dongfeng’s hopes of a good result on this leg of the race, and a long slow journey to Abu Dhabi. As a temporary repair, Donfeng’s bowman Kevin Escoffier has fitted some straps, tightened with ratchets, to try to hold the area of the mast track that has come away on to the mast as tightly as possible. The sliders (called cars) that attach the mainsail to the track must move past both the damaged area, and these straps, each time the mainsail is reefed (ie increasing or decreasing the size of the mainsail, according to the wind strength - a vital action for both performance and safety as the conditions change). Therefore the straps must be taken off each time this happens. This will require some earlier anticipation and preparation time for a reef which is not always easy to have in unstable conditions. This will also mean sending someone up the mast each time to take the straps off, wait while the reef is put in or taken out, then reattach again before the boat is fully powered up and the pressure comes back on the mast track.





    The team hope that conditions will become calm enough tomorrow at first light to consider effecting a more practical temporary repair, attempting to re-bond the track to the mast.

    Kevin after returning from phase 1 repair up the mast, and as ever with some humour “the next phase is to go back up the mast tomorrow when it should be calmer and bond [the track] back to the mast…or we don’t take a reef before Abu Dhabi!!!”



    With relatively stable wind strength at the moment, this should hopefully not affect Dongfeng’s pace in the short term as they might not need to change the mainsail configuration too much. However it is clearly a constraint that in such very tight racing, might have an effect during the rest of this leg until a full repair and re-glue can be done. Certainly a problem the team could have done without - but not a problem that the determined men of Dongfeng will let diminish their ambitions for leg 2 of this extraordinary ocean racing competition. Its a mechanical sport, and the boats are pushed hard - its no surprise to have such challenges thrown at the team, and other boats are undoubtedly managing other issues, whether they choose to communicate or not about them. We chose to share our moment of stress with you!





    http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/virtualeye.html
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  9. #149

    November 27 & 28th Update




    November 28, 2014

    We are bearing north on starboard tack, and our next goal is sailing to windward of Reunion Island and getting ready for the upcoming party.
    The fight is still very much alive between ourselves, Abu Dhabi and Brunel, we see them all the time, something which is really good for MAPFRE because that allows us to learn a lot from boats which’ve been training longer than a year.
    It was quiet today, the squalls forced us to do some tacks and peelings but that was all.

    It’s getting warmer as well. Each time the engine goes on the boat turns into a sauna, and it’s even worse when the ventilator under your feet goes on when you are cooking.

    Our check of the the boat started with some little repairs, it’s really important for us not to break anything onboard during the tropical storm so we to stay with the fleet.
    Ñeti will climb up the mast tomorrow to check it. This might be the most important thing, I’ll give him my GoPro see if he can take a couple of nice pics.

    This morning we had a bit of unstable wind and we had to move the stack to the bow, and then the 1600 kg to the side again. Nevertheless, these light conditions have helped us gain miles upon Brunel.

    So far we are all healthy and missing a cold coke, a nice steak, a shower, our beloved ones and getting more than 3 hours' sleep in row.

    These last seven days were just great, let’s keep our fingers crossed. The race is long and so is the leg - if you move down from the top spot it’ll be difficult to regain it.


    Francisco Vignale
    OBR, MAPFRE







    Wanted: Police calls your attention to the following

    On Thursday November 27th, 2014 around 5 PM the stock of chorizo sausages disappeared from the food bag of Team Brunel. Nine of the delicious sausages, which the crew appreciates as "the culinary highlight of the day" were packed: exactly 1 per crew member. At the time that half the crew was sleeping, however, all the 9 pieces were surreptitiously stolen.

    Rokas Milevicius, one of the victims, is in a sad mood. "Who does such a thing? We need to get to the bottom of this."

    No trail to date that leads to the perpetrators. Evil tongues say that Louis B. aka "The Moonlighter" is the evil genius behind this plot. Also Bouwe B. seems not entirely free of blame.

    Can you help the crew of Team Brunel? Have you witnessed Louis B. or Bouwe B. this specific Friday afternoon? Or do you have other tips that lead to solving this enigmatic case? If so, please contact your local police station.


    Stefan Coppers
    OBR, Team Brunel



    "With the tropical storm approaching our route, we are soon going to have an idea if the repair is solid enough" - Martin Strömberg
    The threat hanging over heads all the way to Abu Dhabi…

    As soon as we discuss the subject of the mast track, there is a reasonable amount of optimism. But a reasonable amount only, and mixed in with some bitterness. Because having a guy up the mast for an afternoon is neither good for the guy (Kevin!), or our performance. A few more miles given to our competitors – here you go, have a present!

    Now above our heads in the mast is a threat hanging over us, that we won’t be able to get rid of before arriving in Abu Dhabi. Because if the track came away once, we know it can do it again. So we try not to think about it, concentrate on the race, which will take us by Mauritius tonight, before we meet the famous depression that everyone has been talking about for a few days now.

    Mauritius, paradise island, dream holiday destination. Just next to us. But it seems so far away!


    Yann Riou
    OBR, Dongfeng Race Team






    A cyclone or a tropical storm, either one I don’t really care for, neither is pleasant but within 24hrs I’m going to experience part if not all of it. We run some very expensive and complicated software routing programs, one where you input all the weather data, the boats speeds etc and it computes a massively complicated equation of data to give you the fastest route to where you want to go.

    Right, so we run these programs daily if not hourly and yet it still seems to predict that heading towards a tropical storm is the best!!! I WONDER! Sure it might be quicker but I suspect we are in for another day of fairground antics, the type you cannot get off….

    I think being from the northern hemisphere, if we had called this a hurricane I’d perceive the dangers differently but Cyclone or Tropical storm now as its called because it's been downgraded doesn’t associate the same levels of urgency. I asked Wouter earlier' is there much to worry about? He seems to think, not massively. He said, “It’s a maximum of 35knts we will see, you have been out in worse, Brian.” This is true, but I will hold off comment until this passes to make a judgement call.

    The mood is rather focused the past couple of days. The past night was a little relentless for the boys, it seemed the squally activity and shifty breeze rolled in around midnight. I popped my head up occasionally but all were too busy changing sails or changing direction to even be offered a coffee. By the time dawn broke the conditions were getting worse.

    I recall at one stage between 06:00 and 06:20, moving from bunk to bunk 4 times with the sleeping bag. Each time I just got settled in, the engine would start, which powers and moves the 5-ton keel from side to side. Pack up and move to the other side. In the end I think we may have changed course 7 times in 40 minutes so I decided it was time to accept it and give up on trying to sleep. Did I mention I love my sleep, not something I would have admitted before now.

    I often get requests from our TV producers and if you don’t know them, you probably should get to know them. We have Leon and François, both of these guys are funnier that hell, especially François, mainly because he’s French! I love these two guys and they get some crazy ideas - like today, they set me a task on how to explain a cyclone using any means I like. I certainly sat at my desk this morning cursing them both, how do I explain a cyclone!!!!

    I’m on a boat with not so much as a piece of paper to describe or scribble on! Well I did what I do best and went back to sleep after lunch, I find these mid-afternoon naps very helpful (I think the Spanish got it right with the siesta). I woke at 3pm with a plan! I needed a scientist to help and who better than PHD student Peter Wibroe!

    The rest of this blog I cannot write, it was the single funniest moment on the boat since August. I literally had tears rolling down my face from laughter… Look, don’t judge me land people, we don’t have tvs, books, ipods to keep us entertained. It was funny alright… hah…. watch today’s boat feed for your 60 seconds of laughter.

    We have had Alvimedica on our windward shoulder all day long. The accountants on deck running numbers as if to impress a maths teacher. These accountants are sailors too. We slowly closed the gap between us and went bow forward after an entire day of looking at each other.

    Just before darkness descended the winds went to the right, almost forcing us to tack back onto the port board heading 007 COG. We are on our way to meet Suzie (I just named our Tropical friend), I heard she can fly off the handle sometimes… mmm maybe making jokes are not my strong point..

    I also asked Nico today what did he think about Suzie, “Ah, the track of the tropical storm, ah cyclone, we can get around the western side like the good side of it and run around it, but the intensity of it can be kinda hard to work out.” I think he’s reasonably happy we will be ok, so that puts everyone at ease.

    Gee, today's blog was a long one, it was also a busy one, thanks Leon and François for the mental aerobic workout today, you two fellas know how to keep the Irishman on his toes (I’m still having a sleep during the day, try stop me…. ) OH! I almost forgot to report, I hit the big 80 press-ups today, Trae is working me hard but it's beginning to pay off.. I’ll keep you informed on progress.
    Later, Land People

    Brian Carlin
    OBR, Team Vestas Wind






    When the wind decides to have a night off it’s a test for all of us. It’s a test for the navigator to make sure she doesn’t lose faith in her track. It’s a test for the helmswoman and the trimmer to concentrate and keep the boat moving. It’s a test for the skipper to keep her cool. And it’s a test for the rest of the crew to stay “sane.”

    “There’s nothing you can do about it, you have to deal with the wind you’ve got, and if there isn’t any, there isn’t any,” Abby said. “But you hope that whatever we’re stuck under is going to keep moving through and we’ll come out of it. It’s only a short-term thing so you have to work with it, it’s not forever.”

    At the moment we’re stuck between two low pressures, one of which happens to be a tropical cyclone. “All the wind is trying to go to both low pressures,” Libby explained. The low pressures are literally sucking all the wind and thus creating wind holes—aka the most frustrating thing on the sea!
    When you look at a weather map, you’ll see a low-pressure system has pressure gradients close together, much like the contour lines on a map. On a topography map, the closer the lines are together, the steeper the mountain; in this case the closer the lines, the stronger the winds.

    In a typical weather system, the contour lines are evenly spaced until the pressure begins to dissipate where they become further and further apart. At the moment, there are two steep wind mountains and we’re travelling by donkey in the valley between the two; soon, however, we’ll trade our donkey for a Ferrari as we zip into a tropical cyclone.

    The finicky weather has everyone on edge a little bit. Everyone’s tone of voice is a little bit sharper, there’s a particular ‘no wind’ tone—a mixture of frustration and concentration.

    “Everyone deals with no wind in a different way,” Dee explained. “The most important thing to remember is why people are getting frustrated—there’s no wind and we want to do well. This is almost worse than the Doldrums because you expect this in the Doldrums—you don’t expect no wind here.”

    We’ve been working really hard for this for so long and the last thing we want is no wind. So naturally, everyone is concentrated and focused on getting us through this difficult time. The only thing we can do at this point is hope the rest of the fleet is in similar conditions and remember there is tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is going to be the polar opposite (or so we hope!) as we get back into some wet and windy conditions.


    Corinna Halloran
    OBR, Team SCA







    With the waves decreasing, the winds moderating, and the temperatures rising, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has taken the opportunity to dry out and replenish energy reserves. The beating of the last two days took a toll on the sleep patterns of the crew—Justin Slattery and Daryl Wislang particularly seemed to not have any “complete” watches off with sail changes always waking them up.

    Paramount to getting the guys back on their feet has been food and drink. “Azzam” was fitted out with 27 days of food when it left Cape Town and as this leg looks to be shortening in length, we’ve been cannibalizing from the last few days of provisions.
    Isotonic powder – which is mixed into our drinking bottles – helps rehydrate and recharge as it replenishes the minerals sweated out of the body. Crucial to sailing in the tropics where the weather is warm, we ran out of this several days ago. Diving for rations is an art form and after moving several food bags to dig deeper for the last day’s rations, we found the jackpot: a whole new canister!

    Adil even got into the “food bag diving” as he got critically low on another staple: hot sauce. Walking past the stack of food bags yesterday afternoon, there was a familiar pair of Musto shorts sticking out around the bulkhead. Adil was waist deep and upside down rummaging for a bottle. The smile on his face when emerged victorious was priceless.

    For Parko though, true to his Australian form, the best motivator when it comes to food is his Vegemite. Vegemite goes on everything. However, it wasn’t until yesterday we learned the backstory behind his addiction. Grinning he explained, “Mom bought and packed all the Vegemite at home for the race!”
    Thanks Mom.

    Matt Knighton
    OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing




    I’d love to say our fatigue is the result of excess digestion from a Thanksgiving feast but sadly that’s not the case. It was another busy night of sail changes and re-stacking the boat as weather and seas began to change in advance of the tropical system moving our way. We’re currently experiencing what’s commonly referred to as the “calm before the storm,” but the severity of the storm hangs in limbo and varies greatly depending on who you want to believe.

    Right now we have a very relaxed 8-knot northeasterly wind and we’re sailing along, shirtless, in calm waters and very clear skies. But a hesitant glance to the east shows massively building clouds, dark shadows, and evidence of trouble. It’s ominous and looming and to be honest, a bit frightening. But the French models—king for this part of the ocean—suggest it will only be a “depression,” downgraded overnight, and that we’ll see 35-40 knots at most. The American model still believes the potential for cyclonic growth is high, and both models agree: its path is erratic and unpredictable.

    It has been a not so splendid 48 hours for us and the storm presents a bit of an opportunity; that’s how we have to look at it. There hasn’t been much rhyme or reason to the fall down the leaderboard other than that we have been unlucky with clouds and some poor shifts--a bit out of phase as we say in the industry. It’s a tough pill to swallow seeing as we’re in for a long day or two, but the beauty of being where we are in the backseat is that we have the benefit of seeing what’s happening ahead.
    Hopefully there are some good gains to be made because this system could be the catapult the fleet needs to get north through a typically sticky region of light air. We do not want to miss it.

    It will be a very interesting day or two, hopefully a safe but fast trip north back into contention!

    Amory Ross
    OBR, Team Alvimedica




    ************************************************** ********

    November 27, 2014





    Today is a great day in the USA—it is Thanksgiving, a day for spending time with family, for eating food and for giving thanks. While there are only four of us Americans onboard, it’s realistic to say we are a family of nine for the next year and I thought we might take the time to hand out some thanks of our own:

    Thanks to Inmarsat and Cobham for connecting us to the world! It makes us all feel a little closer to our families and friends and this race would be a lot harder without either of them.

    Thanks to the nice clouds in our FUTURE, and not those of our past. We have not exactly won the Thanksgiving Day lottery—it has been a tough morning of getting bounced around underneath clouds. Five tacks in six hours—uggggh.

    Thanks to whoever invented deodorant, as this is one absurdly smelllly bunch.

    Thanks to Friends Academy for their awesome Thanksgiving Day cards! Bella—I appreciate the nice note and glad you enjoy the pictures. I really like taking them!

    Thanks to Mountain House food for supplying a disgustingly delightful dosage of
    Thanksgiving freeze-dried: Roast Chicken to be exact. Poultry is poultry and we’ll just have to pretend it is Turkey, though we were given some special cranberry spread to help the cause!

    Thanks to the Cyclone in our path for getting downgraded, and for being “disorganized”—very much like we feel at the moment, actually. Five tacks makes a mess of the stack and life onboard is somewhat scattered. Like the cyclone. A relief!
    Thanks to all of you for your endless support. It helps to know you’re pulling for us, wherever you may be.

    Thanks to Alvimedica for making all of this possible. We’re truly excited to be here, with this group, and it’s an opportunity we never forget—every day. And thank you for all the work that went into our Thanksgiving care package. Amazing stuff.
    Most importantly, Thanks to our families for understanding our absence from the dinner table! We know what we are sacrificing to be here but we are doing what we love and that will have to suffice for now!

    A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from those of us at sea on Alvimedica!


    Amory Ross
    OBR, Team Alvimedica







    DIY, instability, and frustration

    It happened yesterday during a day when nothing much was happening. As well as being quite boring, it was also uncomfortable. But honestly we would have preferred to stay a bit bored to what happened instead.

    I don’t even know who noticed it, but who cares – the result is the same. Our mast track has come unstuck. For the moment, over a 70cm or so area. It’s not going to pull off straight away, but considering there are still 3,500 miles to Abu Dhabi, we cannot just sit there and do nothing.

    So Kevin went up the mast, and put in place two webbing strops, tensioned with ratchets to stop it peeling off further. That works. It can’t move. The only problem is that with two strops across the track, it’s impossible to take the mainsail down, or most importantly, take a reef. And that won’t be possible to avoid between here and Abu Dhabi! So we need to find a solution.

    “Climb, sand down the carbon, clean up the track, and re-glue it” explains Kevin. When? As soon as the conditions allow it. That should be this morning.

    But not this morning, because for a few hours now there is a big fight going on. Fight between the teams – we can see five with our own eyes – and fight with the elements – squalls, gusts, rain, wind holes, clouds, big wind shifts, and all the sail changes that go with that. It hasn’t stopped. Not the time to climb the mast for some DIY and repairs in any case.

    So on we go. As if everything is fine. On we go stacking the little spoons whilst trying to forget that we have two big webbing strops that weigh a kilogramme each half way up the mast. On we go trimming every detail to try and gain a metre here and there, forgetting that we have to send someone up the mast to glue the track back on, and that could take some time. On we sail with the full mainsail up, without thinking about the big tropical depression that we will find soon right on our route.
    On we go as if nothing has changed.
    On we go!

    Yann Riou
    OBR, Dongfeng Race Team



    Today has been a great day. We did the right calls and that helped us take the lead. The fleet compressed again and we can clearly see Abu Dhabi, Dongfeng, Brunel and Alvimedica.

    We sailed upwind all day, and all night. After sunset, we tacked because of a wind shift. The squalls arrived and with them the wind dropped. We had rain four times so far in this leg, but we weren’t in the mood for a shower – that’s the last think you can think about when sailing in such a tight fleet.

    Jean Luc says it’s important for us to arrive to La Réunion well positioned. Afterwards we could make some good gains if we do the right calls and if the boat sails fast.
    On deck there’s been chitchat about the tropical storm we are about to cross. It could get serious – or not. The best thing is to be ready in case the 40 knots kick in and help us sail faster than the rest of the fleet. Otherwise we’ll keep sailing at 10 or 12 knots.

    It’s 5:21 UTC and as I write we find ourselves in a small wind hole, under the rain, with Abu Dhabi to windward, and Brunel behind. Everybody is on deck and all the weight is at the bow.

    Phases without wind are quite tense because you never know who’s going to gain from it, and you just hope to be that boat.

    Yesterday night we had pasta and tuna, our favorite food onboard MAPFRE. Everybody smiles when we’re having it.

    Rob and Jean Luc won the quiz contest by correctly answering my question: “What’s the largest body organ?” It’s the skin!!

    Francisco Vignale
    OBR, MAPFRE


    Sail repairs don’t slow us down!

    What a day! Before 0800 UTC the team was well into a proper sail repair below decks and, above deck, the team was sailing fast and hard.
    In the early morning hours, one of the sailors shone her light on to the front sail, our J1, and noticed a few torn holes in the sail per result of the staysail’s clew flapping hard against the J1. The team rode it out with the torn sail for a little while longer, until they had a weather window sufficient enough to sail on the smaller (and incorrect) sail, the J2.

    After luging the sail down the deck and into the boat, Stacey and Abby started to prepare the sail for repair. Both sailors were off watch and began using their vital off watch hours to repair the sail, a job projected to take at least two hours.
    First, the sail needed to be dried, so the girls used the engine and acetone to dry off the sail. Next, Stacey cut new pieces of 3Di sail for the repair and used 5200 to glue the patches to the sail. Finally, the sewing machine was brought out to put the final touches on the repair. Two-hours and twenty minutes later the sail was hoisted and SCA was on the correct sail again.

    “The most important thing is to measure twice and cut once. You also want to make sure you do it right the first time so ou don’t have to do it twice,” Stacey explained.
    While the girls below deck fixed one of the more important sails for the leg, the girls above deck were sailing incredibly well and fast. (Not saying they normally don’t!) But the deck team’s performance was so on target that we were the fastest boat in the fleet for the next position report. Furthermore, we made gains fleet wide, miles that later in the day became essential for us. The important thing to note here is that we were sailing on the smaller, incorrect sail.

    What this morning proved was how Team SCA works as a team. Both Stacey and Abby worked straight through their off watch time in order to better the team’s overall performance. Both women did it without batting an eye; in fact they both had smiles on their faces despite working straight for nearly 12 hours once they finished their second watch.

    Sam said she was really impressed with the team’s performance as it really proved how dedicated the team is and how well we can sail the boat in any condition.

    Corinna Halloran
    OBR, Team SCA




    On the horizon at dusk, four sets of sails became clearer and clearer as the fleet compressed and our separation for the past three days came to a close. We’ve been very pleased that the wider route we accidentally dealt ourselves earlier has paid dividends as we now are fighting for the lead with Brunel, Dongfeng, and MAPFRE hot on our tail.

    For Ian, there’s a relief to have other boats nearby to race against, “We’re quite pleased this time because we were a long way behind these guys. It’s quite nice to be in touch and see how we’re going.”

    Last night as we gybed north towards a predicted Tropical Storm that might cross our path, the forecast was for decent trade wind conditions all day. However, as dawn is breaking the Indian Ocean is glass and we’re floating amongst the lead group looking for wind.

    As if the unpredictability of this leg wasn’t enough already, now this un-forcasted high-pressure ridge is rolling the dice again. Anyone could get a puff from a squall right now and come out miles ahead, arrive at the Tropical Storm first, and then see decisive gains.

    There’s no question that storm is in the back of everyone’s mind. When asked if he knows how Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will prepare for those conditions, Ian is weighing the options.

    “The Tropical Storm is coming towards us and that can become a question of how close to the center do we dare go: racing benefits versus potential risk scenario.”
    With a laugh he adds, “I’m sure when push comes to shove we’re all going to send it in there and egg each other on.”


    Matt Knighton
    OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
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    Team Vesta's Wind Runs Aground/ Abandons Ship

    ORIGINAL STATEMENT
    At 1510 UTC, Saturday, November 29, Team Vestas Wind informed Race Control that their boat was grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. Fortunately, no one has been injured.
    We are in contact with the boat to establish the extent of the damage and ensure the crew is given the support needed to enable it to deal with the situation.
    The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Reunion Island is aware of the problem.
    The crew has informed us that it is currently grounded on a reef but nobody is injured. Volvo Ocean Race and Team Vestas Wind’s top priority is to make sure the crew is safe.
    The crew has informed Race organisers that it now plans to abandon the boat as soon as possible after daybreak.
    Team Alvimedica and two other vessels are in contact with Team Vestas Wind to assist.
    We will give you more information as it becomes available.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    UPDATE: 2030 UTC
    Team Alvimedica has now arrived at the site, is in radio contact with Team Vestas Wind and standing by to assist Team Vestas Wind, waiting for daylight.
    Race Control is in contact with Team Vestas Wind every hour. The situation is currently stable on board and the crew plans to remain on board until daylight.
    There is also contact established with a coastguard station on Isle de Sud, approximately 1.5 km from the boat, which has a RIB available.
    The plan is for this vessel to assist in abandoning the boat as soon as possible after daylight.
    Both rudders have been reported broken by the Team Vestas Wind crew. The team has also reported water ingress in the stern compartment.
    The Volvo Ocean 65 has watertight bulkheads in the bow and the stern. The remaining part of the boat is intact including the rig.
    We will update as soon as we have further information.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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