Dark times in the Doldrums for Aviva and a resolution to stop 'zigzagging'


I talked to Dee Caffari earlier today and she had a real wobble in her voice as she described how she and Nigel King closed on their TJV rivals going into the Doldrums then sailed into a wind hole and lost out. Reading not too far beneath the lines, you can tell the Transat Jacques Vabre has been a race of extreme frustration.

Most ocean racers say that struggling through light and unpredictable winds is even more exhausting and stressful than battling through storms. This is especially so in the Doldrums where, even if you get the crossing point right, haphazard convection squalls can carry off your opposition and leave you bobbing. That’s precisely what happened to Aviva.

It’s tougher still for Dee because while this is partly a training race she’s desperate not to end up at the back of the fleet, knowing full well that her performance is being watched and ranked. She was pretty candid about that:

“I’m much more highly strung [than on her wrong-way circumnavigation]. I want to look like I can do this. I’m very aware that people will be looking to see how I do and how I can sail the boat.”

She sounded thin-lipped about the routeing. “The first week we started well, but we made some really big tactical errors and the second week has been a complete disaster.

“We kind of felt that we were just zig-zagging around. That really wound us up and we had to readdress everything and start again and feel that every mile was contributing to getting to Brazil rather than doing random bits of pressure here and there. We had to have a bigger picture in mind.”

Check out the TJV site’s superb race viewer