The latest blogs from some of the crewmembers as they battle big seas and squalls
Ian Walker updated us on the night’s events: “I don’t really know where to start, as the last 24 hours has been so incident packed. I guess I’ll start at the beginning, which was a tale of various nosedives in increasingly disturbed seas yesterday. This has lead to various bodily injuries all of which are manageable. The luckiest man on the boat is Guo Chuan our Chinese crewmember.
In one nosedive he managed to fly from the companionway, head over heels once or twice and end up head first upside down in the rubbish bag in the galley – a distance of approximately 5 metres forward and 2 down. Andrew pulled him out by his legs and he was unscathed apart from a new nickname – the ‘Cannonball’. Not content with this he was on deck for the next one, and face planted into a winch – his nose has seen better days but he is still fine, he insists!
Back on the race track the front has outrun us, we had a 60 degree shift which meant we had to gybe south. We were settling into this course when at 0130 we hit something in the water. There was a deafening crunch and the boat went from 25 knots to a virtual standstill. Neal, who was helming smashed the wheel and everyone else fell over. We inspected the hull, foils and keel for damage as best we could and all seemed fine apart from a huge vibration – presumably caused by whatever was now on the keel. We decided to live with this until daylight but a few hours later it seemed to have cleared.
Today we can see clearly on the keel that we hit something hard – thank goodness it wasn’t the rudders or they would have been broken. By now people are getting tired after two gybes and all this excitement. To make matters worse at first light today we buried the bow so hard the A6 spinnaker came back and smashed into the pulpit and forward stanchions before ripping to pieces. Our resident sail maker Phil Harmer thinks he can fix it in a day, which is good news, as we need it ASAP. The metalwork can wait until Cape Town. Somehow Ericsson 3 seems to have carried on in the north wind, which confounds the fact that they were west of us as the front passed over. This and all our escapades means we have lost 3rd place for now. The Green Dragon is wounded but far from slain – we will continue to push as hard as we sensibly can. Right now it is over 30 knots again and it will be for the next 24 hours at least’.
Skipper Bouwe Bekking writes:
“The last 24-hours we have been hanging in, not only sailing-wise, but as well you can see that less sleep is taking its toll. We got rolled by the front last evening, lots of rain and big gust of wind, up to 40 knots. Immediately after the front, the breeze dropped to a teasing 10-15 knots, but the big seas were still present, so we got rocked around heavily.
“We decided to dive south and to see if we can make any gains with our approach towards Cape Town and hoping for more pressure. On the mileage table it doesn’t look very good, as the leaders still are racing straight to Cape Town. It is painful to look at it, but we have to think long range and how we can get there as quickly as possible. We can see that our teammates on the black boat must have had a mishap, as they slowed down dramatically. I can imagine they tipped it in during the front passage, and it takes a long time to get everything back on the rails after a mishap.”
Aksel Magdahl – navigator gives a summary of last 36 hours:
“Passed 2 Telefónica boats. 200 squalls, or sailed in one squall the whole way depending on how you look at it. New top speed for Ericsson 3. New max wind speed with spinnaker up – 46 knots. BTW it was during black night in rain and bad sea state. It felt just fine from the navigator’s bunk.
Three sail changes within two hours, whereof two involuntarily, costing lots of miles. 11 wet guys. 3 bent and jammed carabinos on harnesses after people being washed along the deck. Waking up in the bunk with cramp from holding on while asleep. Waking up in the bunk in front after digging the bow in downwind. Ended up IN the cold front rather than ahead of it like E4 and Puma.
Dropped off the front and caught up with it again – could be decisive one way or the other. No spinnaker last night after recalling the night before
Some basic rules inside the boat:
1. Keep your feet at least 1.5 metres apart, you have no idea what the boat’s next move will be, but you know it will be abrupt.
2. Never leave an open space ahead of you – you will dive far when we dig the nose in
3. Always hold on to something. When we dig the nose in, it is always as you transfer from one place to hold on to, to another.
4. Do not spend any time forward of the mast (where the galley, foul weather gear and toilet are) – it will be painful.”
Dave Endean, pitman, includes a thank you:
“Very unlike me to spend too much time at the computer at sea, but I have been asked to write today as it is my birthday. Yay! Happy Birthday to me etc etc. A quick thank you to those of you who remembered, and thanks very much to those of you who didn’t.
Nothing different on board today, although I did try and see if I could miss my morning watch and stay in bed. No such luck! Not even a cup of coffee was made for me this morning as we are all working pretty hard to keep the boat moving fast while keeping it in one piece.
Our on board media crew member Guy Salter has managed to co-ordinate with my wife to make a little birthday wish video featuring my 11 month old son. Quite possibly the best birthday present ever…a little heart string was given a tug and a quick reminder that there is life outside this damp dark existence. Life outside the break-neck speeds, constant rashes and rubbish food…a life I am quite looking forward to getting back to!
“I’d like to finish by thanking our shore crew, who did such a good job with the preparation of this boat (and ERT 3). Such detailed preparation was paramount in us having enough confidence to hold this poor boat’s head under and sail to a new 24 hour speed record. I would also like to apologise in advance to the shore crew as this poor boat has been THRASHED!!! It’ll be a busy couple of weeks in Cape Town. See you soon!
MCM note: Dave does however get special privileges today:
His own bucket and sponge (for the day)
His choice of lunch and dinner (lunch is a set menu with choice of 2 mains – dinner is a set menu with the other he didn’t have for lunch)
His own bunk – luckily vacated by Tony for the day.
Who says we don’t know how to treat a new 30 yr old on E4!”
Skipper Ger O’Rourke writes:
“Delta Lloyd is doing between 20 and 26 knots of boat speed in wind speed of 20 – 28 knots as we push hard to stay ahead of the Russians some 20nm behind us. We can only fly fractional sails in wind speeds above 14 knots due to a damaged top Stb spreader we made repairs on. So if we manage to finish ahead I will be happy.
Objective is to get boat and crew to Cape Town for repairs so we can live to fight for next 8 legs.”
Although power reaching in intolerably harsh and wet conditions, the lure and promise of Cape Town is driving Team Russia to battle its way up the rankings for a hero’s welcome in South Africa.
Cape Town locals, Mikey Joubert (bowman) and Cam Wills (grinder and trimmer) have kept the boats spirit high with stories and tales of what to expect at their first port of arrival.
Thoughts of course also turn to matters of the stomach; Cam writes; “Cape Town is now drawing close and I’m starting to get that hometown feeling in me of cold beer and rare steak!!”
Mikey adds “We are counting the minutes. How far to go? We keep asking the navigator, much to his annoyance. This is the general feeling on board Kosatka. Cape Town, for many it is a much anticipated stop with unbelievable hospitality and an amazing chance to take a few days out to savour paradise. I am lucky enough to call it home.”
“Leg one has more than lived up to expectations. Competitively it is exceptionally close. Life on a Volvo 70 has been described in so many different and imaginative ways by people far more qualified than myself, I have read many of these accounts, and I only have one word as comment. Understated.
“We are racing arguably the most high tech yachts on the planet today. We are being paid to push this awesome machine to its limits and beyond. We are here to discover new boundaries as a team and within ourselves. This yacht has become our second home and I feel proud to be a part of such a project.”