Team Russia's media man Mark Covell looks forward to more appropriate dress as soon as the breeze builds
It may seem wrong to comment on such a thing in a macho race as the VOR but when I gather my thoughts in readiness to write this blog, I look up and I find myself surrounded by men in pants. The reason that I find myself in this predicament isn’t because RUS-1 Kosatka has turned into a Calvin Klein catwalk, it’s because it’s become searingly hot. The wind has slowly dropped and the pace of life has eased up with the boat speed. Welcome to the biggest parking lot in the ocean, the Doldrums.
The Doldrums is a strange and mysterious place. The dictionary says it’s an “Equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds”. But I say it’s a no-man’s-land of nothing, an oily sea of shimmer. The waves that have surrounded you for days are amazingly ironed flat. The earth’s angry storms rage around the planet to the north and south, leaving this small slice of tranquillity to bumble on alone in the middle.
I woke this morning having slept on a sail at the bow staring up at the stars, to find only one other person on deck, at the helm. Guillermo was half holding the wheel watching the bubbles drift by as if in a slow motion play back. It was safe to say, there was no wind. The whole crew was out flat in the shade below. Even the normally beavering Nick Bubb (Mr Darcy to his mates) was taking the day off. Maybe the lads had found a desert Island and all gone down the pub without telling me and were nursing a hangover. This lot was literally taking the Doldrums lying down. The B&G boat speed displays very nearly showed the dreaded four fried eggs for breakfast. i.e. 00.00 knots. Luckily with the momentum carried from a previous life we ghosted along at 00.60 knots. Then as if from no were, small patchwork quilts of breeze started to appear on the waters oily surface. Then rugs of ripples formed slowly stitching together. It wasn’t long before we were sailing in a nice wall-to-wall, greeny-blue, deep shagpile carpet of three then five knots. It felt like a storm compared to what we had been in.
Our Navigator Wouter came up on deck with a tenuous smile of relief. He had seen the latest quick sked weather file and explained that we were crossing the Doldrums at the narrowest point and we had managed to work well south with the pack. If this wind built and held, when we gybed to the west we would have a great power reach into the scoring gate of Fernando de Noronha. We weren’t out of the no wind woods yet but as the boat started to power up we knew it wasn’t going to be long now, before the spray and waves would be back and there would be no more walking about with only your pants on.