Monday, March 26, 2012

Breeze Eases Off - Volvo Ocean Race Update

The stress levels on board the three leading boats in Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race dropped briefly during daylight as the weather finally gave the teams a break and moderated to less than 20 knots. However, as night fell, icy cold driving rain and 30 knots of wind returned to test the leading trio again.
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
At 1000 UTC, Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) continued to head the stampede, 50.6 nautical miles (nm) ahead of PUMA's Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA), the only other leading boat not nursing damage. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) in third place and 228.4 nm back have slowed five knots to prevent damage to their bow section from worsening.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) are in fifth, now 1,152.9 nm in deficit, but have begun their progress along the ice way line with a spinnaker hoisted at last, while CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) and Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) both head for different ports at separate ends of the ocean, in order to make repairs.
Photo: Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
Sanya will arrive in Tauranga, New Zealand on Tuesday, but CAMPER has incurred further damage, this time to their starboard longitudinal frame. "It's the fourth big blow we have had in a row,” explained Hamish Hooper, MCM of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand. "With each new blow, things become that much harder and fragile." However, skipper Chris Nicholson is confident that they now have the right sail combination to keep the longitudinals intact.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
“It is not an exact science when the boat is not 100 per cent operational," the skipper said. "We are looking to the future, getting to Chile and getting the boat back in racing order to resume our leg."

Phil Harmer, helmsman/trimmer with leg leaders Groupama sailing team, has doubly injured his shoulder when the boat nose-dived twice as he was below bailing water during the worst of the weather. He was smashed first into the front hatch and again, two days later, into the keel bulkhead and looks set to sit out Leg 6 as a result.
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
The moderated conditions proved only to be a temporary lapse and the next round of extreme weather has already arrived and will continue to batter the fleet well into Wednesday. Accordingly, the crews have been making the most of the window in the weather, to rest and prepare for what is to come.

The brief respite was a welcome one and the sunshine brought smiles to the faces of exhausted crew. The boats were aired out and checked over in readiness for the harsh conditions set to return and reefs were shaken out. Full mainsails were hoisted to help propel the boats across the still huge leftover seaway.
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
There was even time for the crews to marvel at the desolate scenery around them and the wildlife that calls it home. “Albatrosses, as many as you can ask for. Their harmonious and elegant flight keep enchanting us,” reported Groupama’s MCM Yann Riou.

Morale throughout the fleet still racing is good. “Sometimes a bunch of little things add up and you find yourself riding a high, the likes of which you haven’t felt in far too long,” wrote Amory Ross, MCM with PUMA. “We’ve had an intense week of constant abuse and it’s always nice when someone turns down the volume for a short while,” he said.

The highlights among the PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG team include the recovery of their two injured crew, Casey Smith and Thomas Johanson, who are both up and about. Also on the list of highs were the sunny weather and the fact that the crew’s favourite beef stroganoff had been found after missing for the past week.

The leading trio are now closer to Cape Horn and the major milestone that it represents, than they are to New Zealand and back in full Southern Ocean conditions.
Leg 5
26/03/2012 10:37:30 UTC
Volvo Ocean Race Media

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