Is it right, wise, cool, or fast to go hungry?


As the meat rained down on our plates at Porcao, one of Rio’s most famous Brazilian BBQ restaurants, there was a certain unease among some of the team PR’s that had joined us when it came to discussing the plight of their hungry crew as the sailors inched their way towards the finish line in light and fickle conditions.

Some of the teams have reported that with supplies running thin, rationing has been introduced. There have also been suggestions that disputes have broken out aboard some boats over the issue of food.

One such outburst is said to have been sparked over the alleged theft of a chocolate bar. Others have appointed one member of the crew to be in charge and presumably guard, provisions. All of which sounds more Pirates of the Caribbean [no VOR reference intended] than it does that of hardened professional racing sailors.

Yet it’s easy to understand how the topic of food and the lack of it might become a tinder box on board. After 12,000 miles these are tense times for tired crews who now, more than ever, need to draw on every reserve to maintain or improve their position and stay with the plot while the fickle weather does its best to throw them off it.

With so much at stake and emotions running so high, is it really worth skimping on food? Sure, the leg has been considerably longer than expected thanks largely to a slow passage down to the South followed by upwind conditions once they got there, but the additional potential righting moment from stackable food must surely present an incentive to take as much as possible.

Certainly there are some in the fleet who are keen to point out that they are far from running low.

“We still have a complete menu for five days, meaning full breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a variety of snacks,” writes Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking. “On top of that we have pasta, extra muesli and some bags of the least favourable warm meals, plus plenty of protein powder, so no worries from our side in case it even takes longer.

“Also we have enough fuel so we can run everything, including the airco (fans),” he continues. News that will do anything but cheer the boys on Green Dragon who have been on rations and now have a problem with their generator.

In the June issue of Yachting World we will be looking at how sailors cope and react to the modern freeze dried racing diet. With 50 percent of the points still up for grabs the remaining legs to the finish will need to be fought hard, but can the crews recover in time after running on empty for so long and give their all when required?

In the meantime, what do you think about the fine line on food?

Is it right to pair things down on the food front or is this simply part of the game or an irresponsible tactic/gamble borne out of an over competitive strategy?

Or should the rules insist on a minimum amount of food or penalise those that run out?

Finish your steak, then drop us a line.

To see two very different approaches to food on the final straights take a look at the following video diaries:

Green Dragon team divide up the food and stretch their portions 

Meanwhile Ericsson 4 has more food than the crew know what to do with, including chocolate, but why?

If you need an update on the leg – make sure you take a look at the Volvo weekly documentary – great footage, great commentary and an excellent review and reminder as to how much has happened on this 12,500 mile leg
VOR Weekly TV Documentary