Buckle up and suck it up
Published on August 12th, 2014
Cowes, UK (August 12, 2014) – Since the start of the 1880nm Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race on Monday, the wind speed across the entire course has barely dropped below 25 knots and reports of over 40 knots of wind have been recorded by many competitors. The conditions have provided a full-on, proper wild ride, but that has taken its toll with three retirements among the 28-boat fleet.
For the five Volvo 65s seeking to measure their training for the Volvo Ocean Race which starts this October, the strong conditions are distributing a few knocks and bruises. Team Dongfeng’s Pascal Bidegorry required stitches to a hand wound, plus the team destroyed a sail, while one of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team has bruised ribs from a fall down below.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam leads the field as they have made the turn at the top of Ireland, with tactical decisions at Muckle Flugga, perhaps complicated by the wind shadow of the Shetland Islands, that launched Team Dongfeng past Team Alvimedica into third position and now challenging second placed Team Campos, skippered by Iker Martinez.
The rough conditions have taken their toll on Team Alvimedica’s On Board Reporter Amory Ross. “This is agonizing. I feel absolutely horrible. I have never felt this way on a boat before—ever. It’s a combination of wind, waves, maybe some sort of sickness and probably, most importantly, working on my computer. The sea state is really poor and focusing on my screen is proving costly.”
The conditions are offering an early taste of what lies ahead for the Volvo Ocean Race. A report from Team SCA, which sits fifth in the ranking, paints the picture:
“The waves are pretty unreal: walls of white water, nearly reaching the first spreader that come flying over the deck. Some crash over the cockpit filling it like a bathtub. Others seemingly leap over the boat altogether and come fully down on the four girls on deck. One wave completely knocked Annie Lush off her feet as she trimmed the main; only after the grinders were trimming the sail back to life did Annie climb back to her feet again.”
The counter-clockwise course finds skipper Ian Walker’s Azzam directing his team on a southerly course with about 1000nm remaining to the finish.