Volvo Ocean Race – It’s disappointing Stacey Jackson will be sitting out Team SCA’s Volvo Ocean Race leg 7 from Newport, Rhode Island, to Lisbon, Portugal, which starts on Sunday May 17.
While she will be on board and on the bow for the Newport Pro-Am races and Saturday’s In-Port Race, the coaches have called for her and Annie Lush to take time off the boat. “Unfortunately it’s my turn to sit one out. But I can understand the reasoning behind the decision. The next two legs after leg 7 are like sprints. They are like two to three days long. The coaches are resting me and Annie so we are good to go for the shorter legs.
“I am fairly disappointed as I had ideas of having done the whole race, that is, all the legs. At the same time a good friend of mine sent me a message the other day saying this leg is 2,800 miles and I have just done 34,782 or so miles. So when you think of it like that, it is probably one of the better legs to miss out on as I would hate to miss the short legs at the end as they will be like Sydney Hobart races,” Jackson said.
Leg 6 from Itajia, Brazil, to Newport had its fair share of challenges for Jackson and the rest of the all-women team on Team SCA.
Jackson physically survived the 6,776-mile leg apart from having the unpleasant experience of head butting a flying fish while careening along at a lively pace. “It hit me clean in the middle of the eyes. It was night time and I was wearing some clear sunglasses as there was a lot of spray. The glasses then dropped down and cut my nose.”
A special moment of the race came out of the blue on day 14 when the crew presented Jackson with a make-shift trophy to celebrate her winning the Trygve Halvorsen Trophy for Offshore Achievement of the Year.
“It was a very nice surprise. The award is from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Sydney where I am a member. When I moved to Sydney I joined that club so I could do their youth development program. I ended up doing a lot of match racing from that club. It ended up being one of the better choices I made in my sailing doing that program.
“Royal Prince Alfred then supported us through our match racing days so I have always kept that membership running because I have never felt that I have paid them back for the support they gave me,” Jackson said.
RPAYC Commodore Ian Audsley explained the annual award was given to Jackson because of her involvement in Team SCA and the Volvo race along with her long track-record with Sydney Hobart races and other blue water events. “She was a stand-out candidate,” he said.
The downside of Leg 6 for all the teams was having to deal with a significant amount of seaweed for about five or six days. Jackson explained on Team SCA they had to come up with the answer to managing the weed as stopping to clear the weed each time they collected a large amount was not an option.
“We developed a technique of kind-of capsizing the boat as much as we could. There is a folding prop which doesn’t lift up into the boat like the previous Volvo boats had. As it’s not a very aerodynamic shape it was catching weed and it became like a beehive shape. You would have to lean the boat over to about 35 degrees of heel and then it would fall off. You would then lay the boat back down. But then the weed would generally go straight onto a rudder so then you would have to lean the boat the other way to clean it off the rudder.” All the time they were pushing the boat forward as fast as they could.
Team SCA also had to deal with the frustration of being so very close to matching it with the other teams. “For more than half the race we were in there.
“Initially we did quite well. We were hanging in there upwind. A lot of the guys wanted to know why we were so fast upwind. Then we suddenly took this certain angle where we were half a knot slower than everyone else and we just couldn’t get that half a knot of boat speed which ends up being three miles every position report. We slowly fell off the back of the fleet which was really disappointing as we had made that transition from always being behind to being right in there.
“That happened on day eight or nine. This next leg is only about 10 days so hopefully the girls can hang in there and in the really short legs we have every chance of winning a leg or at least getting a place.”
While the rest of Team SCA are racing towards Lisbon Jackson plans to use the time off the boat to give her an extra boost in readiness to give it her all in the last two legs, from Lisbon to Lorient in France and then the final leg into Gothenburg, Sweden.
“We seem to go okay in the shorter legs. There will nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“Team Vestas seems to be on schedule to be in Lisbon. If us or Vestas can get between anyone, we can upset the scoreboard,” she added.
by Tracey Johnstone