• Volvo November 27 & 28th Updates From The Boats

    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

    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

    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
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race started by PD Staff View original post