VOR: Loving every minute of it

Published on January 21st, 2015

Jack Bouttell is currently on route to Sanya, China with Dongfeng Race Team. At just 24 years old, Jack is the first British skipper to have won to coveted Rookie division in the 2000nm solo Solitaire du Figaro race, has two Solitaire du Figaro assaults and a RORC Transatlantic Race win under his belt, and is now fulfilling his dream of competing in the Volvo Ocean Race. Here he provides an update….

I was woken up for my watch at 0200 in the morning and was hit with that initial feeling of why do I sail offshore. Still mostly asleep, pulling on some wet weather gear, that feeling soon wore off as I got on deck and had woken up a bit.

We had nice downwind conditions with the A3 spinnaker up, Brunel was close behind, and there were more stars in the sky than I had seen for a long time. It was my turn to steer, we now had 20-23 knots of wind speed and 20-23 knots of boat speed. Dongfeng was screaming along into the night with just the sounds of the hull booming through the sea, waves crashing down the deck and Pascal Bidégorry or ‘the Hawk’, as I have come to think of him as, calling out Brunel’s AIS position and speed.

About half way into the watch the full moon rose under the A3, lighting up the boat almost like the day and I had a quick moment of thinking… this is simply HEAVEN!

When you think of a Volvo leg, your normally mind jumps to big speeds, cold weather and icebergs, but this leg had changed that to scorching hot conditions and a lot of debris in the water.

As we neared Malaysia the amount of rubbish and debris in the water is unbelievable. The rubbish is not nice to see, but the debris is a real concern for us and we have sailed within meters of entire trees and nets. A big portion of your watch is spent on look out; this is super important as a big log could easily break a rudder and if it hit the hull it could be worse.

The other thing is the heat …wow! It is just inescapable; it is hot on deck with the light winds not helping to cool anything down and then in your off watch coming down stairs feels like opening the door on your oven when you’re cooking, but then not getting to shut it again. A few hours per day we need to switch on the engine for charging; when this happens you seem to wake up in a pool of sweat and have quickly go on deck to try to cool down.

Maybe I am crazy, but I am loving every minute of it!

Background: The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is now on Leg 3 from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China (4,642 nm), which started Jan. 3 with an ETA on or after Jan. 25. The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven 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.

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