So far the VO70 Ericsson has averaged 350 miles per day as they reach the half way mark to Cape Town. Tim Powell reports from on board
These Volvo 70’s are proving to be quite awesome yet brutal boats to sail.
We have done over 3500 miles in 10 days which although it doesn’t sound
incredible it has been done at an average wind speed of probably 13 knots.
They showed their brutal side on the first night after leaving Vigo where we
had up to 40 kts of wind and the force of the water coming down the decks
was so powerful that we were getting washed down the decks, washed off the
wheel and generally pummeled.
Our only trouble of the night came about when we broached with our spinnaker
up after being hit by a 37-knot squall. Everything was fine until the
halyard broke; the spinnaker fell into the water and the boat straight over
the top of it. We then spent 45 minutes heaved to drifting backwards pulling
the sail back in over the bow. Needless to say not the best of nights but a
valuable lesson learnt and compared with what happened to movistar and The Pirates a fairly minor issue.
As to the rest of the leg, this has been our longest trip on Ericsson, so
our learning curve about the boat has been pretty steep. We have been
refining our sail cross over chart and generally learning how to get the
best out of the boat. These are things we would have liked to have achieved
earlier but time runs out and this is where some of our competitors have the
Life onboard is good, freeze-dried food is freeze-dried food and that really
hasn’t changed since my first race 12 years ago. The bunks on this boat are
very comfortable and in many ways these boats are easier to sail than the
last breed. We have fewer sails which means less sail changes and with so
few crew on deck you are kidding yourself if you think you can sail them as
you do inshore. They become difficult when you have to do manoeuvres and
sail changes because the gear is so big and heavy – we have one spinnaker
that weighs in at 104 kgs and that’s when it is dry!
Having said that we were very happy to get 2nd place at the scoring gate and
will try and make some inroads into ABN but she does seem to be going very
well at the moment.
It’s still a long way to go to Cape Town and the leg is certainly never a
foregone conclusion until you are over the finishing line.
Picture shows Guillermo and Dingo