Getting what they signed up for

Published on March 24th, 2018

(March 24, 2018; Day 7) – Positions on the leaderboard are in flux as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet gybes along the course boundary set by the Ice Exclusion Zone.

Positions can be expected to change throughout the weekend depending on how far north or south they are positioned at the time of the position report, which gybe the boats are on, and how well they have been executing their maneouvres.

It’s exhausting, but necessary to stay at the front. And it will take a toll on both people and equipment. It’s just a matter of time.

“The further south you are the shorter the distance you sail so the more gains to be made,” explains Plastic skipper Dee Caffari. “The further south you are the bigger the sea state, the further south you are the more gybes you have to do. So we are balancing all these concerns with our strategy in the current stronger winds we are seeing now and will be increasing throughout the day.”

Abby Ehler, the boat captain on Team Brunel says: “We just mentally have to get ready for it. We will not get a lot of sleep and there will be a lot of gybing action. We saw in Leg 3 that that is what you have to do to win the leg. Stay close to the ice gate line so here we go!”

That’s the strategy, but the effect on the crews is brutal. On board reporter Sam Greenfield sent in this note from Turn the Tide on Plastic describing what life on board is like at the moment:
There’s a great lesson in commitment to be learned from offshore sailing. In every other sport you can step off the field when the feeling’s not right.

Not out here.

Tonight feels like survival mode, which isn’t promising because it’s supposed to get worse in a few days.

We are wrecked. Wet. Tired. Chilled. Bundled. Raw. The inside of the boat feels like a paint shaker and jumps off waves like a sinister rodeo bull. Speaking of, I just got thrown off the chair into the bulkhead. The boat is half the time sailing under the ocean and the sailors up on deck are clipped in for a white-knuckle ride battling solid walls of cold water in the dark.

Maybe sending it in this most wild and remote corner of the ocean is a similar feeling to being strapped in a rocket capsule just after lift-off. I’m not interesting in finding out.

Tonight is brutal, but at least we’re on starboard tack for a bit of time. Last night was spent gybing. Endlessly. Everyone watched the sun set and then rise and everything in between.

Today we’re experiencing the first of two lows. This is the small one, with winds only getting up to the low 30s. Tomorrow there’s a bit of relief and then a 40 knot plus ass kicker with 9-meter swell bears down on us and takes us all the way to the Horn, which Dee says is five days away.

Until then we’re living one step and hand hold at a time.
The path to glory in the Volvo Ocean Race is brutal. Only the toughest need apply.


COURSE: Starting on March 18, Leg 7 takes the teams from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí, Brazil. Race organizers choose to estimate the tactical distance for each leg rather than list the actual distance, an unusual decision that’s revealed once the race starts and the tracker lists the actual distance to finish. The VOR says Leg 7 is 7600 nm whereas the truth is more like 6623 nm with an ETA in Itajaí between April 4 and 6.

For crew lists … click here.

Race detailsTrackerScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

Leg 7 – Position Report (13:00 UTC)
1. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 4154.5 nm DTF
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 6.3 nm DTL
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 11.8 nm DTL
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 28.0 nm DTL
5. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 38.0 nm DTL
6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 39.7 nm DTL
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 144.5 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead

Overall Results (after 6 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 39 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 34
3. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 26
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 23
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 23
6. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 20
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 12

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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