For now no big news on the race course, as ever it is a very tight and close upwind battle between the boats, everyone looking to just sneak out a mile gain here and there by choosing the best tacking angles and shifts. Of course, there is also a longer-term gain to consider about being on the left or right hand side of the course for when the wind changes as they sail up the coast of Brazil.
Less than 300 miles to Cabo Frio, a landmark to the countdown to and the arrival of the Trade Winds further north, putting the fleet into downwind mode.
The team are now settling back into life onboard as Martin and Kevin contemplate/worry about how long it would take if they keep going at this pace in the latest video, whilst Sam Greenfield is back onboard and delivers his first blog for Leg 6 here
I’m back in the big red submarine and disoriented as hell after I changed my watch to UTC just before the race start and took a short nap after the sun went down.
We did that tacking thing and now I feel like a kid that woke up from an afternoon nap and doesn’t know if it’s time for breakfast or dinner.
But on a positive note I’m sitting next to my esteemed French navigator, Pascal, for the first time since leg 3.
And it’s magical.
He’s at the NAV desk munching on his nails and ripping the dead skin from the flat of his hands.
Isn’t that nice?
Abu Dhabi’s OBR, Matt Knighton described how Ian Walker rubs the top of his head when deep in thought.
Pascal prefers the DIY manicure.
If there’s an accompanying pedicure I hope he keeps it to the bunk, but I seriously doubt Pascal is that flexible enough to chew on his toes.
I haven’t sailed with the Dongfeng crew since leg 4 to New Zealand but all it takes is one short month off this black box to forget how closely we live together.
Unlike the other two I’ve sailed, this leg doesn’t feel like the Volvo Ocean Race.
It feels like the great American OBR race to the United States of America.
And the finish isn’t the course line off Fort Adam’s.
It’s the first one to kiss the ground.
I haven’t been since Thanksgiving (which happened in November for all you Pagans).
The thought struck me hard as we were drifting out of Itajai and the race committee shortened the course, eliminating the In-Port loops.
“After you round the passing mark please proceed to Newport,” they’d said over the radio.
It was the first time I’ve been casually asked to sail from Brazil to Newport, USA.
But this time all boats and teams are out the window.
Now Abu Dhabi isn’t Azzam, it’s Matt. Alvimedica is Amory, SCA is Corinna and Dongfeng is Sam and the first US national home has bragging rights for life.
What about Mapfre and Brunel?
Have you ever tried flying into the United States as an alien?
I haven’t, but I’m told that after fingerprints and customs and interrogations it takes awhile.
So if Francisco on Mapfre or Stefan on Brunel hit the dock first they’ll need at least a half day lead to be allowed off the boat, and after the fleet has managed to finish within minutes of one another leg after leg it’s almost safe to say –if our mast stays up- that the real race to American soil is reserved for the American OBRs.
Ok now… I’m worried that Pascal will start eating his finger if this manicure goes on any longer, so I ask a few questions.
“Pascal, where are the other boats?” I ask, still disoriented as nap-time-kid.
“Um. We can see Alvimedica and the girls on AIS.”
What?! That’s it man?
I forgot how much Pascal hates to speak English and I’m not sure what he means because then he pulls up the AIS and I can see all five competitors scattered across the screen. Nonsense.
Maybe another question…
“Pascal, how is performance?”
Silence and nail biting. Damn it, Pascal. You’re going to have a hard time in Newport but I know that he hears me.
I whisper yell “Pascal!” in my best Jack Bauer.
He comes closer. I have a real question.
“Pascal, I want to know the story behind your team tower quote.”
For the reader’s information, if you ever visit a Volvo Ocean Race village each team has a massive branding tower and each sailor has their own personal quote. They’re mostly pretty bad, but Pascal’s is the exception.
Pascal’s quote is, “I want my daughter to be able to say that her dad beat Ian Walker in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.”
Ian Walker actually came up and asked me in Itajai if I had any idea why he wrote it.
Did Pascal have something personal against him? Did he wrong Pascal?
So I ask Ian’s question.
“Ah, that. Well I wrote this first quote, nonsense, for Amy (Dongfeng’s PRO) but then I read Ian Walkers quote so I write back to Amy and say change mine, I want to change mine. It was only a joke.”
“Pascal,” I ask. “What did Ian’s quote say?”
“Bah well, it said, ‘I want my daughter to be able to say that her dad won the 2014015 Volvo Ocean Race’.”