Volvo Ocean Race. So near and yet so far –
Days at sea: 20 Boat speed: 11.7 knots Position in fleet: Second, 11.8nm behind leader Team Brunel, but gaining 1 mile in oldest position report Distance to finish: 783 nautical miles Quote of the moment: “hangry”, a combo of angry and hungry. Watch the oldest video here as the team describe their emotions in one word. As the sailors of the Volvo Ocean Race enter their 21st day at sea, frustration is etched upon the faces of the Dongfeng crew as they slowly lose sight of their close competitors Team Brunel. The Dutch and the Chinese have been in-sight of one-another for 18 days now, a rare thing in round the world offshore racing. There’s no telling what will happen in the 783 nautical miles left to the finish in Abu Dhabi, but for now it’s a world of disappointment and frustration onboard Dongfeng. It’s like a carousel they can’t get off.
Little appetite, lack of sleep, aching bodies and even the smallest of tasks become that little bit harder. So how do they keep going? Well, lack of choice for starters. They can’t just step off a boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean, so this in itself is a good incentive to keep moving forwards! Then of course, there’s the choice of becoming a sailor. Like any professional sport there is only a selection of people that can sail around the world in a race like the Volvo Ocean Race and it’s times like these (day 21 of leg 2 out of 9) that it takes a certain type of person to dig deep and find that motivation to keep competing. “For the shore team it’s easy for us to watch the tracker and be thrilled with how well they’re doing. When in reality, they’re onboard and couldn’t be more frustrated with their current situation.
The level of competitiveness onboard is remarkable,” explains Team Director, Bruno Dubois. “They’re always there,” says Team Brunel Skipper, Bouwe Bekking. “Everyday at daybreak, the first thing we see is Dongfeng in all her glory. We call them our Kung-Fu fighting friends.” Competing with Brunel is one thing but Dongfeng also have to contend with Abu Dhabi hot on their tail. “Once they hit the light air ahead we’ll come crashing in as the compression begins,” wrote Abu Dhabi’s Onboard Reporter Matt Knighton this morning.
It helps when you’re in front of course. Being in first position was once described by Onboard Reporter Yann Riou as an ‘invisible force of motivation’, when leading the fleet everything is easier. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case for Dongfeng Race Team in today’s oldest position report. Second behind Brunel by 11.8 nautical miles, the team is desperately trying to outperform the leader with, as it stands, little or no success. The team gained a mile on their Dutch rivals in the oldest position report – may not seem much but a psychological boost nonetheless.
The fleet is pointing north towards Abu Dhabi as the upwind drag race to the finish plays out. Wind is expected to pick up during the day and this evening the three leading boats can expect between 16-22 knots. It’s fair to say that Caudrelier and his crew exceeded expectations during the first leg coming in to Cape Town just 12 minutes behind leaders Abu Dhabi. Question is, how close is it going to be this time?
by Amy Monkman