Going to the casino and putting a fiver on red is great fun. But let’s be honest, putting fifty quid on red is even more fun. It’s simply more exciting because the stakes are higher! “Within two days, we have a good chance of a 400 or maybe 500-mile split in the fleet,” says Bouwe Bekking.
Team Brunel – Let’s all move closer to the roulette table, because the stakes are about to get raised in the Volvo Ocean Race. Navigators: place your bets.
There’s also a good chance that our navigator Andrew Cape will throw me straight overboard if he hears me comparing the noble art of navigation to a game of chance. Is that why he studies hundreds of weather models? Or stares at the various routes towards Cape Horn for days on end? That’s the art of navigating. Within two days, the navigators need to choose between two totally different routes. The northern route (let’s call it red) or the southern route (black).
Betting your hard-earned lead on red would seem to be a simple choice. Full blast Southern Ocean weather with 30 to 40 knots of westerly wind. In other words, put your hard hats on and speed up like lightening! The question is: will the boat survive?
Black is a somewhat more cautious choice: there is much less wind and the route will be close to the wind. So why would you go for black? Black is more southerly. And more southerly means shorter.
Make a circle using your thumb and index finger. That’s the world. The distance from where your thumb and index finger meet, to the palm of your hand, is a lot longer than “down through the dip”. That’s the South Pole. To exaggerate a little: a trip around the world via the equator is quite simply a fair bit longer than a trip around the world via the South Pole. On a smaller scale, it can therefore be interesting to opt for a southerly route.
If the teams make different choices, we’ll see the same large split as in the previous leg. And we won’t know which colour is best until the ball stops rolling a few days later.
In the previous legs, our navigator Andrew Cape has proven that he dares to bet on a different colour than the rest of the fleet. It’s about time that this is rewarded with the jackpot. Even if it only means I’ll be enjoying my Brazilian mojito sooner. No further bets!
Volvo Ocean Race: Wolf (Yang Jiru) Crew member, Dongfeng Race Team
I did get seasick in the first few days. Actually it didn’t affect me as much when I was working on deck. But I was silly and spent 20 minutes below deck and then I got seasick and I couldn’t help myself. Fortunately the wind got lighter afterwards. They say you’re supposed to look at the horizon more, so I took the medicine, and managed to adjust myself in the end.
Everyone got a nice break in yesterday afternoon. It was such torture for us before, Black and I had only five meals in total in the past few days, Black had two meals and I had three. We didn’t have the energy to eat, it was tough. That’s what seasickness does to you.
To be honest, this leg surprised me, it has been easier than I anticipated. We are taking the path sailing towards the east, there’s no big change in the temperature and it’s all acceptable. For now… (I remember) the day I was suffering from seasickness, when I put my head out of the cabin, I saw a huge wave behind us. I’ve never seen such a huge wave in my life! I wasn’t scared, but you still feel something. After all, you’ve never seen something like this before.
I’ve been having a certain daydream recently, I feel like I’m a hobbit. I’m leaving a normal ordinary life – I meet with friends, we eat and drink together. And all of the sudden I ‘win the lottery’, (and the prize is that) I’m going for an expedition. Instead of the characters (in the computer games) that fight all the time, the hobbits love peace and are not ready for the battle at all. But once you ‘win the prize’, you have to be ready to pack your bag and go fighting.
For me, the most difficult thing is not the situation I’m facing right now, like all the other movies, the most difficult moment is (before you start to fight in the battle) you have the feeling that it’s going to be tough. But since the moment when you step onboard it means you can’t turn back anymore, you have to put your fear aside when you step on the boat.
There’s no turning back.
Volvo Ocean Race Yann Riou OBR, Dongfeng Race Team
Two shades of grey and a pink line in sight…
Clear grey and dark grey. The sky and the sea. Those are the only two shades we see. As for the pink – that’s Team SCA we’ve spent most of our time chasing and it’s only now as I’m writing this that we’re finally passing them. Apart from that it’s been a pretty calm day, you know, compared to previous ones.
So we’re in the Roaring Forties but the temperature is what we could find in Autumn anywhere around the globe. Having said that, we feel something building. Not sure exactly what yet but we have a feeling the coming week will be unlike anything we’ve experienced so far.
All routes are leading to the Horn
We still do not know what the south has in store for us, nor do we know which route we will take. The forecasts are constantly evolving as fast as we receive the new weather files.
“The change of one single calculation variable on the same routing with the same weather file makes us go from a very northern route to a very southern route,” says Pascal Bidégorry. So we watch the different files go by and we wait.
Night falls and the wind is picking up bit by bit. Tomorrow should bring around 30 knots of wind. The leftovers of the ex-Cyclone Pam, who’s dying as it should at the bottom of the South Pacific.
Charles Caudrelier Skipper, Dongfeng Race Team
We’ve been trying our hardest over the past 36 hours to make a comeback.
Unfortunately our four tacks to get some separation to the south haven’t worked out, and the leading trio have stretched out their lead – the right solution was to continue straight ahead.
In our group of Southerners, we have really suffered from the anticyclone and its unstable wind. Yesterday we were totally stopped in a wind hole and we lost 10 miles on SCA and five on Mapfre in just two hours.
Last night Mapfre seemed to have been the victim of the same hole, and in a few minutes we sailed straight past him to leeward. This afternoon I awoke from my nap to see SCA again. Finally something positive, and we have found our speed again.
The crew have been making the most of these anticyclonic conditions to rest. The violent exit from New Zealand, combined with seasickness for some of them, really woke us up after four legs in the tropics. In 24-hour time, it’s all going to speed up again, and we need to be ready to try and catch up a few miles.
Onboard life is now quite orderly, and our Chinese friends are discovering the cold. It’s still 15 degrees C and they are already dressed like it’s the Southern Ocean. They better acclimatise because in three-day time the air and the water will be just 5 or 6 degrees C. I admire them – with so little experience to have the courage to be here and to fulfil their roles onboard. I can see they are worried and stressed but they want to be here and go past this famous rock.
Wolf just asked me how many days to the Horn. Nine. He seems reassured and satisfied, nine days don’t freak him out after four long legs. I remember five months ago, I can still remember his face when I told him it was another nine days to Cape Town. He was so fed up after suffering on that first leg that he wanted to give up sailing. In Auckland he was the most motivated to go in to the Southern Ocean. He’s almost certainly going to have some moments of regret though before passing his first Cape Horn.
Black got his smile again when he woke up and I handed him a completely new oilskins top. Yesterday he tore the waterproof collar of his top. Since yesterday he’s been sailing with his spare top, but that one doesn’t have a hood. A detail when you are in the tropics, a real crisis in the south.
by Team SCA