Puma skipper Ken Read explains the change in gear in his exclusive YW blog as the team heads towards the Doldrums

“The heaters have been turned on, and the grinders have been turned off – for the moment anyway.

To give you a few interesting anecdotes from I’ll mostro (‘The Monster’) today.

People ask all the time how much work there actually is to do when on watch. Well, I can report that I heard several today mention the fact that the light air is a reprieve from grinding the spinnaker down every single wave for five of the first seven days of this race.

Work is an understatement, with only four on deck a decent percentage of the time, you are steering, trimming or grinding. Not a soul sitting on the rail thinking about beer and pizza. Actually maybe not, you can get in a quick beer and pizza thought in when grinding, and not really look like you are day dreaming!…

Anyway, the grinding is even more intense than most day races, because the apparent wind speed differences and the apparent wind angle difference is so great before, during and after a wave that you have to ease and trim literally on every single wave. Hard on the bodies, and hard on the ear drums below. The easing of a sheet that is as loaded as these sheets are – is deafening. On every single wave! Especially if Salty is trimming. He has a knack for easing two inches whether he needs it or not. Just enough to send a shudder and scream through the interior, piercing the eardrums. We have spoken about it and he just smiles. My guess is that he doesn’t change his ways in the near future.

As we approach the middle of the earth, how hot does it really get? Hot, and we aren’t even to the hottest part yet. Really hot. A couple of us were doing a few little sail maintenance touch ups today and to call it rivers of sweat running off of you is a minor understatement. The water maker is a value that we could not do without and seems to get run overtime down here. We are constantly preaching drinking water. If you don’t you develop hangover like symptoms pretty quick. Not that I have those symptoms often when on dry land, but I have been told.

The battle goes on against the fleet spread wide across the entry to the doldrums. Actually we had a day today surrounded by squalls in which the Volvo veterans fondly told us rookies “welcome to the doldrums–and if this isn’t it – then we are really close”. Can’t wait for them to say “welcome to the south east trades”.


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