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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tough Guys Are Doing It Rough - Volvo Ocean Race Update

It's day six of the Volvo Ocean Race and conditions are starting to test the crews sailing out to the west as seasickness and tiredness sets in. Inshore, Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) continues to make headway and is currently leading the fleet by 111.40 nautical miles (nm).
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
The three boats to the west, led by Telefónica (Iker Martinez/ESP) with PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) just eight nm astern are currently sailing upwind and away from Fernando de Noronha, the mark of the course on the Brazilian coast that the fleet must leave to port, in order to reach a new low-pressure system. Once there, they will hook into the new breeze on the western side, avoiding the centre where there will be little or no wind, and speeds will start to clock up.
Damien Foxhall Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
The on-going battle between PUMA’s Mar Mostro and Telefónica continues as they engage in their own private drag race, causing a frenzy of activity for each tack as gear and crew are stacked in the optimum position. The two boats are in sight of each other, which adds to the onboard competition.
Adam Minoprio's neck chaffe Photo: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) are doing it tough out on their own, 78 nm to the north. Nerves of steel are needed on board as the crew cling to their strategy to sail closer to the low-pressure system and meet the promised new wind.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
Meanwhile, the crew of Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) are enjoying their peaceful course 24 nm inshore.
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
They spent a mystical night racing downwind under a cloudless sky lit by a full moon in a balmy 20C. The dream trip will be over if the weather gods kill what little is left of the trade winds, but for now the crew are enjoying themselves. Last night they clearly spiedthe lights of their former base camp in Lanzarote. Earlier this morning they gybed away from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura and are now running parallel with the coast.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Discussions on board centre around how best to bridge across to the west and re-join the fleet. Earlier this morning, bowman Brad Marsh described this move as “similar to crossing a battlefield full of mines and bombs, with surrounding trenches and gunfire from all angles”. Sounds like fun. But he added that Groupama sailing team are a band of smart and experienced Frenchmen who are confident in their battle plan. Or just plain nuts.
Skipper Iker Martinez Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
There's a story in every position report but the question on everyone's lips is will Groupama 4’s radical move pay off or is going west still best? Abu Dhabi are a long way behind having resumed racing this morning by slipping back into Leg 1 with a replacement mast.

Lulu Roseman

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