Train has left the station

Published on October 31st, 2014

(October 31, 2014; Day 21) – The leaders in the Volvo Ocean Race are now past the 40th parallel… technically in the Roaring Forties. While it’s not roaring at full strength yet, the train has loaded the frontrunners with 25+knot winds from the west. Finally, a speedy ride across the Atlantic to Cape Town.

Alvimedica barely hopped on the last car of the train, while Mapre and SCA will need to wait for the next one. Sometimes the poor get poorer. Amory Ross onboard Alvimedica describes today’s change…

Like flipping a light switch. Off to on in so much as an instant, the anticipated westerlies of the South Atlantic have finally arrived—28 knots now—and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly life onboard can change. One minute you’re enjoying a nice casual sleep, twelve knots of wind and comfortable in your sleeping bag. Things are pretty mellow, tranquillo as Charlie says. Your iPod probably ran out of battery while you were dreaming, dreaming about home, maybe a steak in Cape Town. It really doesn’t matter—you are dreaming.

Something wakes you and you open your eyes and ears to a very different, very alarming setting. It’s pretty chaotic, actually. Your eyes adjust to the darkness, slowly, with the only light coming from red headlamps of the guys doing very much the same all around you. As the boat careens through the night like an out of control freight train, carving a trench through the ocean while obliterating every bit of water in its way, it is loud—constant loud like the rumble of distant thunder. You can actually hear the speed, feel the speed. Like accelerating in a sports car with your eyes closed, off-road, in the rain.

People on deck are yelling, bags down below are flying, waves are shooting through the hatch, and all you and everyone else just rising from their bunks are trying to do is wake up, simply get to your feet. And the kettle’s just tumbled to leeward because the boat is on its side. You hear it clank loudly, twice, on the way down and it lands in the [rapidly filling] bilge with an audible splash—a noise so annoying, so bothersome in principle–that you know it will someday occupy your nightmares. Gonna have to go get that. Like, right now.

Leg 1 Position Report (as of 18:40 UTC)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 1880.1 nm Distance to Finish
2. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 7.5 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 11.4 nm DTL
4. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), 27.9 nm DTL
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 81.1nm DTL
6. Mapfre, Iker Martinez (ESP), 277.1 nm DTL
7. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 476.8 DTL

Race websiteTrackingWatch logVideos

Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began Leg 1 on October 11, which takes the 7 teams 6478nm from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. ETA is Oct. 31 – Nov. 9. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series. Final finish on June 27, 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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