At sea. Volvo Ocean Race: It's know round the world holiday says movistar navigator Andrew Cape Print E-mail
Monday, 10 April 2006
Andrew Cape – navigator:

Cape Town, Melbourne, Rio sounds like a great itinerary for a round the World holiday. For myself as a competitor in the Volvo Ocean Race it is a case of visit interesting places and look at weather maps. Life ashore is spent between boat yard and lodgings. Physical training and food supplied at the yacht’s containers leaves me with the rest of the day to look into a LCD screen studying weather forecasts in boat, metal box and hotel room. Hence time passes quickly and the stopovers feel way too short especially with the inshore race and then the mental adjustment and preparation for the next offshore leg.

Time is precious with family and friends. While in Melbourne I only got to see my parents twice and I was never able to phone any of my old mates. Inevitably when you are on shore you want to be at sea, getting on with what you are there for. The sailing goes quickly as well, once into the rhythm of life at sea (at the extreme) the days appear to blend into one. The day types break down into good, bad or heinous. Once you have left the dock you want the leg to be over and the question is asked 'how far to go' and the only sure thing is that it will be less tomorrow and one day you will arrive.

With the fleet now back in the Northern Hemisphere you get the impression the race is near the end. The bulk of the distance has been travelled and certainly the most dangerous stages completed. The points scoring system for the remaining four smaller offshore legs allows the opportunity for a complete reshuffle of the minor standings. Dwelling on time again perhaps because I am now an old bugger, the Volvo Race has flown by and in two months time will be a memory like the others.

Despite my ranting I consider myself extremely lucky to compete in such a race. The sights seen, experiences shared and people met will never be forgotten. It will always remain a challenge and achievement to sail around the world. I am far too well aware that there are much worse ways to make a living and spend your life. I have definitely enjoyed the event even though our extra stopovers crippled our chances of victory. It will be great to get back to the place where I pay the mortgage. Since starting with Movistar in Nov 04 I have been in my house for a total of five weeks and the majority of that was when we retired from Leg1, no surprise the dog growls at me.

After a week at sea we are now in the NE trade winds of the Northern Hemisphere. The Doldrums (ITCZ -light air zone near the equator) and the Southern Hemisphere are a thing of the past. With 3000nm to the finish line there is still plenty of course to sail and obstacles to navigate. I don't know how the relative yacht positions look when viewed on the Internet but let me assure you that every small adjustment of boat speed and heading can have a serious effect on he final outcome of the leg. Hence all decisions are carefully considered, scrutinized and monitored. The next five days should be a drag race with each boat needing to find its best track to head given the size and shape of their available sails and the wind speed they are in. Of course it is never that simple and subtle differences in wind speed and direction can create big gains in distance.

The sailing so far I would put in the good category. It a relief to be able to go on deck without donning two sets of thermals, dry suit top, full wet weather gear, boots and harness and then get completely hosed when outside the hatch. It is also a pleasure to be able to sit comfortably below without getting thrown around and deafened by the waves. With the wind speed getting up to 15 knots we must know close the hatches & wear wet weather gear on deck. Given the heat here prepare for man and boat to fester.

I have learnt a new saying from Spike (Peter Doriean) that will be the expression of the leg. Toned down for the family audience 'You can only use the tools you've got'.

Can't wait to be in.

Last Updated ( Monday, 10 April 2006 )
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