Volvo Ocean Race: Full on drag race

Published on April 22nd, 2015

(April 22, 2015; Day 4) – Wind across the fleet that remains steady with just a few degrees of shift have shuffled the pack a little from the last scheduled position report. Those are the facts but in reality nothing has changed. There is still only 6.8 nm distance from front to back.

Team Alvimedica, Dongfeng Racing Team and Team Brunel have been the fastest boats in the fleet clocking 14.1 knot 3-hour average speed over the ground, as the fleet keeps sailing east ahead of the cold front.

The slowest was Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing at 14 knots as they are sitting in first, so the fleet keeps rolling north like six bowling balls, deep into the Atlantic Ocean and steadily on.

Patience and boat speed continue to be the winning advice. One team that may need to find a little more patience than most is Dongfeng Race Team. They have undergone a repair to their broken water-maker by wrapping the split tube with carbon in an attempt to seal the crack.

The glue used was curing all day before the crew dared to test the fix. This was a tense moment as they probably only had one attempt at this. If it works, then happy days, if not they would have two very unsatisfactory options.

Option one is to make a pit stop in a port of their choice and pick up a new part. If they do this, the rules say they must stop for a minimum of 12 hours. Recent leg finish history would say they would probably not catch up so potentially they would be signing up to a sixth place.

Option two is for thirsty crew to carry on using their emergency water-maker, and manually and painfully pump their way out of trouble. Extreme races sometimes need extreme choices.

The time came to test the water maker. The crew onboard Dongfeng Race Team can now drink fresh water again without dislocating their arms. The water-maker is back and running again! “The water-maker seems to have been fixed and hasn’t exploded after its second use,” said OBR Sam Greenfield.

For now, the glue and tool skills of Kevin Escoffier (aka Mr. Fixit) have saved the crew from 4.5 hours of pumping just to obtain the water they needed for the day.
Nothing compared to the pleasure of just pushing a button for desalinized water flowing directly to the bottles.

Dongfeng’s troubles have highlighted how much we take the simple function of a water-maker for granted. All the crew are on their own micro-planet with its own rules of survival. This has rocked their world and exposed how such a small shift in the norm could change the course of their destiny.

Today is World Earth Day, where we should all take the opportunity to appreciate those things that the earth provides for us. Like planet Dongfeng’s water-maker issues, you don’t realize how important something is until it stops working.

And as the fleet keeps sailing east trying to stay ahead of the cold front that is chasing them, an interesting email popped up from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Ian Walker. It was addressed to the crew on Team SCA, currently sailing in second place – to inform the all-female team that it has circumnavigated the world!

“Congratulations girls, you have just crossed your track from Leg 1! That must mean you have sailed around the world!” Ian writes. It couldn’t be a better timing to accomplish a circumnavigation of the planet on Earth Day!

Leg 6 (5,010 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 4320.4 nm Distance to Finish
2. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 3.5 nm Distance to Lead
3. MAPFRE, Iker Martínez (ESP), 4.0 nm DTL
4. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 4.1 nm DTL
5. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 4.7 nm DTL
6. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 6.4 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 sixth leg, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, USA (5,010 nm), began April 19 with an ETA of May 6.

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