In the back seat of the family wagon

Published on February 18th, 2015

(February 18, 2015; Day 11) – It was a tricky day at the office for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, with wind shifts and light breeze mixing it up with scattered showers and squalls. Two knot lulls and 30 knot gusts can keep you on your toes.

“It’s cloud after cloud with some gusts and some rain,” says Alberto Bolzan on Alvimedica. “We’ve done lots of sail changes.”

The concern now is of the doldrums that lie two days ahead. “We’ve got a very big messy Doldrums ahead of us – I expect anything there,” explains Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker. “I’m not sure anything we’ve done so far will be relevant at all.”

At the moment, the leading pack – Team Brunel, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica – are heading south while MAPFRE, Team SCA and Dongfeng Race Team are heading southeast.

Overall leader Dongfeng, which has hardly had a misstep through the first three legs, is now uncharacteristically in last. Team reporter Sam Greenfield described it this way:

“Today feels like we’re strapped in the back seat of the family wagon on a road trip to … the bottom of the world. It’s been a long trip because dad took a wrong turn. Then we got a flat. The radiator overheated and now we’re praying mom will do something miraculous. Like calm down dad.

“In all seriousness, the steamy, sweaty doldrums are looking like paradise –yes- we’re actually looking forward to them. Skipper Charles Caudrelier is grasping for any opportunity get back into the game.

“We’re cruising through the Caroline Islands hoping to catch a five-boat pileup, if you catch my drift. Speaking of drifting, our dear boat seems as though she’s barely grasping to life. A busted J1 hook the other day.

“This afternoon we discovered the mainsail track was peeling off the top of the mast – again- but in a different spot from Leg 2, and right now the kids are on deck patching a hole in the Masthead 0. Our very own Greek tragedy!

“So we are at the back of the after a terrible night, caught by some clouds stealing all the wind, and now we feel like all the clouds are against us. It’s really terrible for us and there’s nothing we can do because the predictions of the clouds come so late that we can’t anticipate them.”

Apparently everybody gets a turn in the outhouse.

Leg 4 (5,264 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 2603.1 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 15.3 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 33.3 nm DTL
4. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 62.2 nm DTL
5. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 69.1 nm DTL
6. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 72.2 nm DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start

Race websiteTrackingScoreboardVideos

Background: 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. The fourth leg, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand (5,264 nm), began Feb. 8 with an ETA of Mar. 1-5.

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