Green Dragon är fortfarande i ledningen och har gjort det smartaste vägvalet hittills i Volvo Ocean Rce. De åtta båtarna är snart vid vändningspunkten utanför Brasilien, dit åskådarbåtar ska kunna ta sig ut för att se deltagarna på närmare håll. Puma ligger på andra plats medan Ericsson 4 är trea. Avståndet till etappmålet i Kapstaden är cirka 3 600 Nm.
Det har varit stora variationer i ledningen för den här första etappen, som startade från Alicante i Spanien. De speciella vindförhållandena runt Dldrums med sina stora stiltjebälten ställer stora krav på navigatörerna i båtarna. Roger Nilson, svensk veteran i Telefonica Black, har de sneatse dagarnas positiva utveckling mildrats lite, idag ligger den båten 70 m efter ledaren.
Ericsson 4 med Torben Grael vid rodret, ligger 37 Nm efter Green Dragon medan Ericsson 3 med Anders Lewander ligger på sjätte plats, 179 Nm efter.
Här nedan följer de senaste pressreleaserna.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST DOLDRUMS
The temperatures continue to rise onboard the Volvo Open 70’s out on the race course, as well as the frustrations of the crews. Over the past 24 hours PUMA (Ken Read/USA) and Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) have gained on the leader Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR). The two yachts are currently positioned 65 nautical miles to the east of Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) and slowly overtook the black boat over the hours of darkness as they tracked south. They now sit in second and third respectively.
For Ken Read/USA on il mostro the time to face King Neptune is nearing, but before that the crew of PUMA haa a few good miles to pick its way through the doldrums. Andrew Cape predicts there is 60 nautical miles to go before they might reach the trade winds again.
Thoughts have turned philosophical for Read, as he considers today their tactical plans down the Atlantic, as they led into the “world’s largest doldrums”.
He joked, “Early in the race we knew that this was going to be a major trap. The doldrums as described by Capey in his typical understated tones were ‘unusually large’, which translates to, ‘Holy crap, there isn’t any wind forever!’ Actually what he described is that the doldrums are exactly where they usually are, and aren’t really that large, but there is a huge band of no wind to the north of the doldrums making it seem like the worlds largest doldrums. And he was right.”
Their tactic to get through the extended light airs was to stay between their enemies and the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha but in retrospect Read wonders if they were too tactically conservative. “In the Green Dragons case, they did a really nice job, back a hundred miles at one point, sailing right around the fleet to the west. Same thing with Ericsson 4, who after dropping off Tony (Mutter) for medical help found a way back and also boogied to the west.”
Ericsson 4 is a mere 24 miles from the leader and has had the best 24 hour run with 189 miles, 6 miles more than PUMA. Ryan Godfrey, bowman, reported on the crew’s jolly mood, “We have been in relatively good sailing conditions compared to our competitors and are slowly earning back the ground that we had sacrificed for a more westerly route several days ago. So far, we have managed to avoid any major ‘park-ups’ in the numerous windless zones that dominate this doldrums area.”
The media crew member, Guy Salter also had something to add today about life onboard their carbon fibre oven of a boat. “There are some budding tailors onboard and the odd wannabe ballet dancer (in lycra skin tight leggings), but for me the prize for most marginal has to go to a Brazilian and his very short shorts (they get shorter by the day). At least the Speedos have not made an appearance yet, probably because the shoe horn needed to get into them has been left ashore! How about getting your crew shorts back on Torben! Please!” At least the humour has not run out onboard.
As of 1000 GMT the whole fleet made a concerted decision to head south west towards the waypoint and they have carried on this track for the past three hours. Green Dragon is now 505 miles from the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, with a current speed of 6.7 knots compared to a more healthy 9, 8 and 9.5 knots average on the three boats behind. Yet the only boat to gain on the leader is PUMA since the last report with a three mile gain. Green Dragon is sailing more directly at the mark.
Bouwe Bekking (NED) skipper of Telefónica Blue is another tense man today as he is chased by the Nordic crew of Ericsson 3 (Anders Lewander/SWE). Yesterday saw the two boats within 4 miles of each other as they dodged wind holes. Overnight two boats manoeuvred their way through the squalls but the blue boat extended away from Ericsson 3 and is currently nine miles to the south west.
Bekking described the hard night’s work, “It was our turn again tonight to have a park-up. We saw thunder and lightning on the horizon appear, so switched our radar on to see if there was any rain. Rain in general is bad news, especially if you are in the wake of a cloud. We could see that the rain was about 16 miles away, so roughly 30 km, and you would expect that there is no impact over such a big distance. But we know better, Ericsson 3 had seen the same thing, and we both tried to sail higher to avoid it as well as possible.
“But again we both ran into the wall. FULLSTOP for two hours, sails flapping. Anyway nice to have a boat right next to you in these conditions, as you can see immediately if you do things right (or wrong) as you have good gauge right next to you. In that sense we have been sailing well.”
Leg One Day 11: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to leader)
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) DTF 3863
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +19
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +24
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) +31
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +64
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders Lewander/SWE) +73
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) +91
Delta Lloyd IRL (Ger O’Rourke/IRL) +132
ERICSSON 4 LEG ONE DAY 11: received 21.10.08 1304 GMT
Things have been going well on E4 for the past day or so. We have been in relatively good sailing conditions compared to our competitors and are slowly earning back the ground that we had sacrificed for a more westerly route several days ago. So far, we have managed to avoid any major ‘park ups’ in the numerous windless zones that dominate this doldrums area.
The temperature both on deck and below is reaching well into high thirties at times which is making life somewhat unpleasant in regards to sleeping during your off watch. The warmth is doing no favours for the body odour of a select few of our crewmates. Hopefully an upcoming rain cloud will inspire them to take an outdoors shower!
We are looking forward to soon getting into the South East trade winds and increasing our speed towards Cape Town and few drinks with friends and family.
Ryan Godfrey – bowman
Media Crew Member Note
The hot weather – although uncomfortable has brought its fair share of laughs, namely in the array of marginal clothing being sported. There are some budding tailors onboard and the odd wannabe ballet dancer (in lycra skin tight leggings) but for me the prize of most marginal has to go to a Brazilian and his very short shorts (they get shorter by the day). At least the Speedos have not made an appearance yet, probably because the shoe horn needed to get into them has been left ashore! How about getting your crew shorts back on Torben! Please!
Guy Salter – MCM
PUMA LEG ONE DAY 11 QFB: received 21.10.08 1138 GMT
Rags to riches to rags, over and over again. The story of the worlds largest doldrums.
It is well documented that this is my first doldrums crossing–and of course my first equator crossing. Yeah yeah, I know. The antics of “King Neptune” are not far away now. Casey Smith, Mickey Mueller and myself have that to look forward to! But, for the last couple of days or so it has felt like we would never get to those antics. Light air running – just getting going only to be smacked by a cloud that has no wind. Then a cloud with pressure gives you hope. And then a clearing that brings slapping sails. And it goes on, and on, and on.
Early in the race we knew that this was going to be a major trap. The doldrums as described by Capey (Andrew Cape – navigator) in his typical understated tones were “unusually large”. Which is translated to,” Holy crap, there isn’t any wind forever!” Actually what he described is that the doldrums are exactly where they usually are, and aren’t really that large, but there is a huge band of no wind to the north of the doldrums making it seem like the worlds largest doldrums. And he was right.
So we entered the lead with only our historical data, some pretty sketchy weather analysis and a prayer. Just hoping to get out within some shot of the lead, and not put ourselves in position to have to play a substantial catch up game in the next part of this race, which is notoriously hard to catch up in.
We aren’t out yet. Capey figures 60 miles to go as I write this. And our goal isn’t secured to get out within a shot of the lead either. Things are just now starting to become clearer though. I think in this particular case it was certainly a disadvantage to enter this massive doldrums in the lead.
A few of the boats had a nice shot at seeing our 3 hour position reports and seeing what the wind was doing with us and evaluating their weather files and deciding where to go next.
We always like the west, but to go there meant to jibe away from the entire fleet at one point and give up the lead for positioning sake – while still in the lead. A lead that we had planed down the Atlantic Ocean to grab. And there was certainly some of the old adage – “if you don’t have a clear picture – stay between your competitors and the mark”. Well, we ended up losing the lead by being too tactically conservative at the front end of the doldrums. In the Green Dragons case, they did a really nice job, back a hundred miles at one point, sailing right around the fleet to the west. Same thing with Ericsson 4, who after dropping off Tony (Mutter) for medical help found themselves a ways back and also boogied to the west.
We got to the west finally as well, although a little late. And hopefully this strategy will inevitable pay off for us over this last 60 miles. I will tell you it is no fun seeing a particular 3 hour boat position report and finding out that by sailing sideways on the race track to get to the west, you actually gained little to no ground toward the mark and lost 15+ miles to most of the other competitors each time we did it.
All for the end game though. And in this case the end game is getting out of this bear trap called the “extended” doldrums. And we don’t even know for sure if this will work yet in the end! Did I mention that it is pretty hot as well?
We are working hard to keep things loose on the craft. Pretty easy to do when you are sailing with some of the most sarcastic people on earth. Makes it quite enjoyable actually, especially during trying times like “:massive doldrums” and a bad position report or two.
I bet all of you at home are tearing your hair out watching this unfold. Believe me, I know exactly how you feel!
Hopefully the next writing can come from il mostro with a bit more conviction and normalcy. Dear Lord I hope so!
Kenny Read – skipper
ERICSSON 3 LEG ONE DAY 11: received 21.10.08 1300 GMT
Last night: Thunderstorm! There was a sudden huge wind increase and shift, we were quickly sailing 90 degrees off course at five times the speed with way too much sail area. The bow was digging into the water because of all the sails on the bow to keep the stern out of the water in the light airs.
It was a massive tropical rain shower and hard to see anything. Screaming between helmsman and trimmer. “Ease more!”, “Get more topmast backstay on!”, “Where are we in this squall on the radar?”, “Stand by to furl!” and “No, let’s ride it out!”
Good action for a change compared to the dull last couple of days. But that marked the end of breeze for us really, so it has been a painful night. Right now we are out in the southerly breeze, but very light and changeable. If our karma has not changed, the thundery clouds will probably move after us.
Aksel Magdahl – navigator