Volvo Ocean Race: Planing toward Painkillers
Published on April 29th, 2015
Itajai, Brazil (April 29, 2015; Day 11) – Apart from the occasional rainsquall, the Volvo Ocean Race teams have been living the dream. With the wind true angle just behind the beam, they are clocking 20 knots of boat speed in 20 knots of wind, all in sunshine and sea temperature approaching 80 degrees F. And sometimes they are really going faster.
“The boat is jumping like an angry bull from the tops of 10’ waves and the noises are halfway between terrifying and incredible,” reports Sam Greenfield on Dongfeng. “A massive white squall is stalking us in the background and we’re going to ride it out for the next hour. Thirty-one knots of speed might not feel fast in a car, but onboard a Volvo Ocean 65 it’s a very different sensation.
“At 31 knots your eyes start burning from the salt spray,” Greenfield continued. “It’s why the sailors usually wear helmets with visors. The waves launch over the boat and across the deck with such force that they can knock you off your feet. Or push you along the deck if you’re sitting. The best lesson I ever learned – by trial and error – is to never hold the camera directly in front of your face when filming in 30 knots or more. It’s not fun to get pistol whipped by your Nikon.”
If there is a complaint, they have only 800nm of race track remaining before they either turn away from their northwestly course or start drinking Painkillers in the Caribbean. The Windward Islands lie in their path.
Bouwe Bekking, skipper of Team Brunel, has already revealed his intention. “Unfortunately we leave the Caribbean to port (to the east). It would have been nice to have had a pitstop there.”
The Alvimedica team, however, is still pondering their move. “We are trying to decipher how the Atlantic will look in a few days as it will dictate our track through the islands,” reports Amory Ross. “West or east doesn’t so much matter in the short term – tradewinds are tradewinds – but it does set you up for the eastern seaboard of America and as such it’s a major decision to make now, very early on.”
Leg 6 (5,010 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 2361.9 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 2.7 nm Distance to Lead
3. MAPFRE, Iker Martínez (ESP), 4.4 nm DTL
4. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 8.9 nm DTL
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 33.2 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 38.9 nm DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start
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 7.