Freddy Mopping the Floor

Published on March 19th, 2018

If there is one leg of the Volvo Ocean Race to be apprehensive about, it is Leg 7, the route from New Zealand to Brazil. Predicted to be cold and windy with mammoth seas, Turn the Tide on Plastic’s onboard reporter Sam Greenfield checks in the second day of this classic course in offshore racing.


If the Southern Ocean nerves are going to get you they tend to hit hardest in the last few days before you head offshore, when you still have a warm bed, hot meals and family and loved ones are at worst only a phone call away.

In my case they appeared at the Volvo Ocean Race crew party last week. I was talking with flat mate, Frederico (Freddy) Melo, Turn the Tide’s towering Portuguese sailor and probably one of the kindest people in the sport. He’s a gentle giant.

New Zealand’s number one Austin Powers impersonator had just wrapped his set and the bar was lined with shot glasses and eager recipients. For me it was bedtime. I asked Freddy if he was staying much longer and he replied in his classic Portuguese-Schwarzenegger accent:

“Yes I am going to mop the floors here.”

The comment caught me off guard. “Wait, Freddy, like you’re literally going to mop the floors here are you’re going to make it a late one?” I asked.

“This may be the last night I have to enjoy myself before I die in the Southern Ocean, so I think I’m going to try and be the last one here.”

I went home but didn’t sleep well that night.

The remaining few days passed in a blur, and in no time we were being escorted out of Auckland Harbor by thousands of kiwi spectator boats. The first sunset was spent on the rail, beating upwind. I was sitting on the rail next to Freddy and asked him about the crew party. Was he actually nervous and did he actually mop the floor?

“Yes! Oh man I was so nervous until we left. But feeling good now. And yes, I wanted to stay and mop the floor because they had spent so much effort throwing us a nice party,” he said sincerely.

Freddy Melo, ladies and gentleman – the most considerate man in the world.

The next 12 hours brought endless tacking in 25+ knot winds and heavy seas towards the NE corner of New Zealand’s North Island, where we plan to bear away and finally head South.

I asked veteran racer Brian Thompson (who has rounded the Horn four times) if he was nervous during his first trip around Cape Horn.

“Oh yeah, of course,” said Brian. “You’ve read so many stories about it. The waves, ice burgs, biting cold, but then you realize it’s not always like that… Sure, it is grey and windy, but we’re not seeing icebergs and mountainous waves every day.

“I think the first time you have an accumulation of all the stories you’ve heard and you think that it’s all going to happen at once. But it’s not like that every day down there, and you do see all of those things. Then you make your own stories.”


COURSE: Starting on March 18, Leg 7 takes the teams from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí, Brazil. Race organizers choose to estimate the tactical distance for each leg rather than list the actual distance, an unusual decision that’s revealed once the race starts and the tracker lists the actual distance to finish. The VOR says Leg 7 is 7600 nm whereas the truth is more like 6623 nm. The initial ETA for the finish is between April 4 and 6.

For crew lists … click here.

Race detailsTrackerScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

Overall Results (after 6 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 39 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 34
3. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 26
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 23
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 23
6. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 20
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 12

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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