At sea. Volvo Ocean Race: "Fantastic trade wind sailing" for Ericsson
Fantastic Trade Wind sailing: © Ericsson Racing Team
Photo: Fantastic Trade Wind sailing: © Ericsson Racing Team - click picture to enlarge
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Tuesday, 11 April 2006
Annabel Merrison:


As the fleet continues its north-westerly course, boatspeeds are fast and positions remain unchanged. ABN Amro One leads the fleet, followed by movistar, Brasil 1, Pirates of the Caribbean and Ericsson. A flat drag race is on until the boats reach the corner of the Caribbean. Opportunities to make gains in the coming days will come down to who has the perfect sail combination and who sails most effectively with their wardrobe.

The fleet is back in the northern hemisphere after competing for five months in the oceans of the southern hemisphere. After nine days of sweltering heat onboard, life is beginning to feel a little cooler.

"We are enjoying some fantastic sailing here," said Richard Mason this morning. "We are currently sailing 1000 miles south of the top end of the Caribbean islands, Antigua and Bermuda. It's now a flat drag race to the corner of the Caribbean where we will start reaching up across the Atlantic inside Bermuda to Cape Hatteras."

Life onboard has been very hot and sticky, with temperatures ranging from 30-40șC inside the boat. "We have had a couple of outbreaks of heat rash amongst the crew, which is keeping the boys a little itchy," confirms Mason. "We are focussing on the racing and fighting hard to find every inch of speed. The Pirates are looming in our sights and we are doing everything we can to get Ericsson on the podium in Baltimore."

Ericsson is currently reaching along at 15 knots in 13 knots of wind. Brasil 1 and Pirates of the Caribbean are locked in battle, and were 20 miles ahead to windward at the 10.00 GMT position report. ABN Amro One continues to lead the fleet with a 37 mile advantage over second placed movistar.

Ericsson skipper, John Kostecki, remains optimistic: "The last thousand miles look slower at times with lots of opportunities for gains and losses; just the sort of forecast we are after. We have been slowly chipping away at the two boats in front of us and we hope we are well placed to make some gains nearer the Caribbean."

Daily Log

Written by John Kostecki at 1331 GMT today (UK):

Fantastic trade wind sailing conditions at present which means fast boatspeeds and a cooler boat which keeps everyone happy.

The wind speed and angle will change very slowly over the next couple of days and it will come down to who has the perfect sail combination at different times and who sails most effectively with their wardrobe.

Life onboard is now very pleasant - with daytime temperatures inside only getting to 30 degrees it's much easier to sleep and although at 20 knots these boats throw around a fair bit of water on deck, conditions don't get any better than this.

The last thousand miles look slower at times with lots of opportunities for gains and losses; just the sort of forecast we are after. We have been slowly chipping away at the two boats in front of us and we hope we are well placed to make some gains nearer the Caribbean.

All in all, there's not much to complain about; if you didn't enjoy sailing a VO70 in the trade winds you should definitely be doing another job.

Written by Guillermo Altadill on 10 April (ESP):

At times it becomes unbearable inside the boat, where temperatures reach easily 40șC. Thanks to several little fans that we have placed near the bunks where we sleep, we can get some fresh air and keep some ventilation going inside the boat. But because the boat shakes, these fans fall down and, if you're unlucky, they can fall down directly on your face, making you wake up from your short sleep with this little murderous device's blades trying to turn your head into sushi. If you're only a little bit unlucky, you'll just get your hair entangled to it.

We're currently sailing by French Guiana but more than 200 miles off the South American coast, accompanied by the trades and by our inseparable flying fish, which insist on crashing their heads against the boat in their suicide flights. Today, we were doing a manoeuvre when one of them, larger than I'd ever seen before, jumped near the boat. If it had hit anybody's face at that moment, sailing at 15 knots and the fish flying at another 15 knots, it would have meant an impact equivalent to a two kilos stone at 50 km/h. Enough to tear your eye out and, what's worse, having to explain to everybody that you're a one-eyed person because of a fish.

While I'm writing this e-mail, there's a watch change in progress. Two of the crew get inside the boat completely soaked; they take off their clothes and hang them up. One of them takes off his sailing shoes and socks, creating a fragrance inside the boat - already really smelly - that causes comments from the two crew going out at that moment. To avoid being the target of their jokes, the person in question takes his socks off and throws them overboard. No more problem, no more smell...For the time being, of course!

www.ericssonracingteam.com
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 11 April 2006 )
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