Having sailed through the doldrums with relative ease, the leading five boats are preparing themselves for more unpredictable stormy conditions
Having sailed through the doldrums with relative ease, the leading five boats in the VOR are preparing themselves for more unpredictable stormy conditions. Satellite pictures show the end of the cloud cover at about five degrees north, so there is still another 100 nm to go before the fleet is well clear of doldrum-type conditions.
For Grant Dalton on Amer Sport One, the problems with the spinnaker halyard lock are really starting to affect the boat’s performance because they can’t carry their powerful sail to maximum effect and they have to drop it before it reached the upper limits of its range. “We managed to carry it all night. It wasn’t the wisest thing to do but if we had not, we would have lost too many miles to Illbruck.”
Still in the midst of the doldrums, Lisa McDonald and crew aboard Amer Sports are fighting with the elements to get every inch of speed from their boat. “It was very squally into the night,” said McDonald “with the breeze going from virtually zero to 20 knots and swinging wildly. So far we have managed to anticipate the squalls and get the big sails down before the wind hits.
“We looking for big, black clouds and trying to sneak around the side of them rather than get caught right beneath them where there is most often no breeze at all. At night we scan the radar for signs of them.
“This part of the world is hot and humid and it’s almost unbearable down below. The showers in the squalls are very heavy and everyone and everything is soaking wet.”
The good thing however, is that once the fleet clears the doldrums zone they can look forward to picking up the Trade Winds which, from the south easterly direction, should be fairly consistent. It will be interesting to see how these Volvo Ocean 60s which have relatively similar boatspeed, perform against each other on the downwind drag race.