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Volvo Ocean Race Update


Life on the ocean wave – zero degrees and heading south

A bracing zero degrees on deck. Cold hands. No feeling in the toes. Water flying everywhere. Cold, grey sky. The occasional albatross, the only company.

That’s life today in the Southern Ocean on the eighth day of leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The relentless pressure of the hard racing in such inhospitable conditions continues. Amer Sports One and Amer Sports Too still seven days from Cape Horn, report some gear damage, general tiredness and impatience for the breeze to moderate and swing to the west.

On board Amer Sports Too, Lisa McDonald reported that the north-westerly breeze they had been expecting finally arrived and lasted all of 1 ˝ hours, before swinging to the east.

“The wind moderated and swung to the north-west. We hoisted a big spinnaker and started making some southing. Then without warning the wind picked up and a tear appeared in our brand new masthead light air spinnaker. Before we could get it down it had just exploded.”

Grant Dalton on Amer Sports One reported a larger tear along the base of the mainsail that they would have to try to repair once the wind swung aft. “We have had one reef in for a couple of days so it hasn’t been an issue, but with the shift it will. With a spinnaker up, the main’s sail area won’t be so critical so we won’t lose quite so much speed. Still we’ll lose a few miles while the experts sort it out.”

Lisa McDonald said the crew were disappointed about damage to the new spinnaker. “It was a good, powerful sail and an important part of our inventory. Now Katie Pettibone and Anna Drougge have to fix it in their bucking sail loft.”

Illbruck is leading the fleet, managing to hold on to the strong south-westerlies while yachts to the east are sailing in a generally lighter westerly.

Tyco and Amer Sports One follow, 38 and 39 miles respectively behind the leader. Last of the leading bunch is NewsCorp, 45 miles astern on the leader.

Significantly, for the first time on this leg, Amer Sports One is further south than illbruck.

Djuice is fifth on the water, 89 miles off the pace, with Assa Abloy at 91 miles and Team, SEB 116 miles. Amer Sports Too, caught in significantly lighter winds, slipped to more than 300 miles from Illbruck.

However, Lisa McDonald is far from downhearted. “It’s not unrealistic to expect that we can recover well between here and Rio. There’s a long way to go.”

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