At sea. Volvo Ocean Race: Constant trade winds & cooler temperatures are welcome relief
Leg 5 day 10, 1600 GMT Position Report
Photo: Leg 5 day 10, 1600 GMT Position Report - click picture to enlarge
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Tuesday, 11 April 2006
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Happy sailors and fast speeds are the order of the day for the Volvo Ocean Race teams. No one can deny the constant trade winds speeds and slightly cooler temperatures are a welcome relief to the sweltering heat of only a few days ago. The only slight cloud over the good moods is the fact that this weather doesn’t give the teams many opportunities to swap positions apart from the wind angle lifting allowing different sails to be used. This can benefit some teams and their sail wardrobe but can also be other’s worst nightmare.

One yacht which hasn’t managed to gain or lose much for days is Ericsson with John Kostecki at the helm. Currently in fifth position, this hasn’t dampened their spirits and drive. Steve Hayles explains, “The wind speed and angle will change very slowly over the next couple days and it will come down to who has the perfect sail combination at different times and who sails most effectively with their wardrobe. The last 1000 miles looks 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!”

ABN AMRO ONE (Mike Sanderson) carries on pulling away this afternoon after having a slightly slower night where Sanderson purposely lost a few miles to the chasing pack. Stan Honey and Sanderson took the hit to cover their backs and belay their worries and now seem to be back to form this afternoon as they take out another eleven nautical miles on second placed movistar (Bouwe Bekking) in six hours. “So for now on Black Betty, it's all about keeping the hammer down and trying to make hay while the sun is shining for us.” Sanderson commented today. “It is looking tricky as we get up near the US East coast so we are going to need as big a buffer as possible to try and stay at the front of the pack.”

As well as trying to keep in touch with the leader, movistar has had their own drama onboard last night to deal with, “This must have been the night of the flying fish. Roughly from 1900 to 2200 it was if we were under attack of them. Stu (Bannatyne), not the smallest person on earth, got hit in the face when driving, Big Mikey (Howard) in the chest, Pepe (Ribes) on his arm and some really big suckers as well. Just fish everywhere on deck. With the moon being so bright you could see something flying towards you. Imagine our boat speed around 19 knots, guessing similar speed of the flying fish, so you can feel it when they hit you with nearly 60 km. It was like a boxing match on deck, body's moving all the time to avoid to get punched by a fish.”

The fight for third has heated up even further today with Pirates of the Caribbean (Paul Cayard) overtaking Brasil 1. Yesterday, Paul Cayard noted how his sail for this wind angle may not be the fastest and this added to the paranoia of having something caught round the keel forced Anthony Merrington and Erle Williams to jump over board to check. Unfortunately for them there was nothing there to account for the slow speed, but their speed is back up today allowing them to overhaul the Brazilians. Could this be due to a change of sail as the wind lifts for them?

Grael onboard Brasil 1 is obviously taking this fight very seriously as well, he asked for the ‘red jacket’ yesterday and is executing his battle plan with military precision, but is his new found speed something to do with his new crew member? This new addition wrote in last night explaining his case. “Yesterday we overtook the Pirates for third place. Our boat speed is amazing and we’re excited! We gained miles fast as I showed these guys how to helm a boat like this! After this episode, the crew discovered that we a have a new big eared helmsman!” This mystery individual ended up being identified as Torben Grael’s ‘No name Bear’, showing this team certainly hasn’t lost its sense of humour despite the pirate pressure.

At the back ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse) is still flagging, losing another 16 nautical miles in 24 hours, despite this the crew members are still jovial as they wage war with the ‘winged warriors’. Luke Molloy explained all today, “Last night was the perfect opportunity to finish my race long observations on the flying fish, or ‘winged warrior of the sea’ as I have named them. There are two main types of this fearless fish. The first to note and the more commonly sighted is the ‘startled speedster’ that accelerates rapidly with a quick flip of the tail then launches into the air with wings spread, flying low and under the radar with a pace that would make Carl Lewis envious. The second and less common, but far more skilled, is the ‘kamikaze warrior’ which possesses an action similar to the startled speedster, but has adapted the ability to fly much higher into the air, some reports suggest upwards of 4 meters. This warrior is only seen at night and is willing to put everything on the line for one chance to nail the skipper in the face and send our Volvo 70 careering off uncontrolled into the darkness!”

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 11 April 2006 )
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