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Volvo 2008 – 2009 Part 2

Feb 12, 2009 1 Comment by

nice jib

Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team

“That didn’t sound good,” said Justin.

“Nope,” I said.

PUMA LEG TWO DAY 5 QFB: received 19.11.08 0743 GMT

Greetings from the monster hospital ward.  And the hospital is not necessary
humans.  Just for our beautiful boat.

At 0430 GMT this morning, we flew off yet another nice little wave and came down to another loud crack.  This time not from the bow section, but in the main section of the boat.  Just behind the keel frame.  Three of us were having breakfast at the time and there was a bit of a stare into each other’s eyes.

“That didn’t sound good,” said Justin (Justin Ferris/NZL).

“Nope,” I said.

Nico (Chris Nicholson/AUS) added, “maybe it was just an unloaded sheet snapping up on deck?”

Justin looked down and said: “or maybe it was this large crack splitting the
main longitudinal frame?”  The master of understatement, old Justin is.

So we are busted.  Again.  This time a bit more serious.  After final analysis on the first break to the longitudinal frames in the bow a couple days ago, it took 7 hours and about 56 miles to fix.  Sounded like quite a bit at the time, but we had enough pace to keep up with the leaders after the fact, and still were in a reasonable position for the scoring gate and the leg.

This one may be a bit tougher to work around though.  Not only is this break in the central structure for the entire boat, but it will take quite a bit longer to put a fix on- maybe as long as 24 hours – and this time the actual fix may be a bit more of a band-aid rather than the fairly solid splint that we could put on the broken front longitudinals.

If the fix takes as long as we think, we have to re-route to Cochin.  Missing most of the points that we could have gotten at the scoring gate and having to bypass the next low coming our way.  Simply put, this is not good.

Capey (Andrew Cape/AUS navigator) and I are hard at work trying to see if there is a tactical solution around this in order to stay remotely in the race.  We shall see.  First priority is the safety of the boat and crew and because of that, we are looking to get away from the next low pressure that is coming in from behind.  Which doesn’t give us many options while trying to get through the high pressure to the north.

The whole reason for riding down into big breeze in the Southern Ocean was to hook up with that second low pressure and getting around the high.  With our current situation, we may be forced into the high.  If that is the case, it is time to start talking about rationing food!

Not only is this a bummer for the team, but a letdown for all who have worked on the programme so far.  Please understand though, that we have not given up hope onboard.  Stranger things have happened.  We have thousands of miles to go.  And we have the most resourceful guys aboard and on shore trying to figure out the best way to tackle our situation.

There are a couple of bright spots.  It has been reported from the bow area of the boat that using the toilet while going this slow is a much more pleasurable experience.  Also, Ricky (Rick Deppe/GBR MCM) got a hot cup of coffee into several of us, which was a very nice treat.  Especially considering the fact that for the first time in days, I didn’t spill it on myself or burn the crap out of my mouth.

And finally, the boys on deck report tons of huge Albatross circling around the boat giving a fantastic show for all.

Just hope that Albatross are not the vultures of the high seas.

Will report more soon.

Ken Read – skipper


Forget the 80s look with shorts and T-shirts and a pair of ray-bans, think survival suits and helmets
Tuesday 18 November 2008 16:30

By Cameron Kelleher

Day four of the second leg and it’s getting wet and very wild out there as the fleet have their first real whiff of the Roaring Forties.

Graphic details of spectacular broaches, Chinese gybes, shredded sails and damage to boats and bodies abound.

Widespread sickness has meant involuntary diets for some crew members as the weather gods serve up a menu of 40+ knots and confused, 8-10 metre seas.

The southern ocean has laid on a hostile reception. You can read and hear about it in every single email and soundbyte from the boats. Fast, but not easy miles, according to today’s TEN ZULU REPORT.

Speaking of miles, there was still a difference of opinion among the fleet as they jostle for a favourable position either side of a north-south separation on the passage to India.

By the 16:00 GMT Position Report, PUMA heading the northern-most pack lead overall from Telefonica Blue at a Distance to Leader (DTL) of +2 nautical miles. Then came Telefonica Black (+20).

The gang of four in the south is lead by the Ericsson twins – E3 (+9) and E4 (+22), – with a wounded Green Dragon (+37) and Team Russia (+79) riding shotgun. Delta Lloyd (+82), also north, brings up the rear.

And so to the damage reports. The tale of woe on Green Dragon is well aired, Ian Walker reporting that the squall that hit them and broke their boom in two had 50 knots written on it. But there is carnage all around. Shore managers please note.

’The proverbial you-know-what hit the fan’

In terms of descriptions, nobody does it better than Ken Read on PUMA. He had a lot to describe. After blowing their asymmetric spinnaker into pieces, an hour later the boat took off.

Last night, he said, would have been great if you were a sailmaker or a boatbuilder looking for work.

”Not to sound like I am whingeing, but I think I will anyway,” he began. “Last night sucked. The proverbial ‘you-know-what’ hit the fan when we got about as vertical in a sailboat as you ever want to be going down a big dark wave that sort of snuck up on us. And when going straight down a big wave the inevitable bow crash is coming into the wave in front.

”Not only did the bow crash into the wave but the prod, the bow pulpit and about 15 feet up the asymmetric spinnaker we had up at the time. Bang. Spinnaker in many pieces and a long night for Justin Ferris.

”Then, soon after a watch change we found another beauty of a wave. Take off! This one was different than the other 10,872 smashes over the past 48 hours. This one caused several cracks in our longitudinal frames in the bow section.

”And for those laymen out there, these frames are the spine of the boat which don’t allow it to fold in half. And they also don’t allow the bow to cave in when we hit waves. Kind of important piece to the puzzle.

”I figure it cost us only about 30 miles on the race track. So my whinge is over. Sorry you had to be a part of it. I feel better getting it off of my chest. The competitive side of all of us hates to lose miles.”

’Nothing left to be done but wait for the inevitable’

Onboard Team Russia, the crew suffered their first “real, heavy, full-on massive flat-out broach’”, according to skipper Andreas Hanakamp.

“The boat slowed down almost to a standstill, up to the mast in solid green water,” he said. “Then, everything went into slow motion. Not a violent knock down, but the boat slowly turning, heeling more and more to wrong side, the boom high up in the air until coming over, and the kite flying around the forestay to the new leeward side and flapping in the 35 knots of breeze.

”Fate was inexorable, nothing left to be done, but wait for the inevitable.”

Cue the rescue squad. Hanakamp climbed the vertical deck to free the runner.; Wouter Verbraak handed him a knife to cut free the lashing; Cam Wills pulled the runner tail with Oleg Zherebtsov grinding it; Jeremy Elliott and Mikey Joubert managed to get the keel moving to the other side to right the boat. Job done.

Elsewhere, Telefonica Blue blew out a spinnaker. And with the crew hampered by sickness due to contaminated water, repairing the damaged sail down below brought unique challenges.

According to skipper Bouwe Bekking, the appointed seamstresses, Daryl Wislang and Jordi Calafat, needed one hand for the spinnaker and the other hand for the bucket collecting the contents of their stomachs. “Shows how strong a character they have,” Bekking said. Today, the spinnaker was still in bits and will take another 10 hours to fix.

’Forget the champagne sailing’

Finally, from Team Russia’s navigator Verbraak comes a warning not to believe everything you read in a glossy holiday brochure …

“I thought this was meant to be a nice sub-tropical leg,” he writes. “Forget the champagne sailing, the only bubbles we are seeing are on the camera lenses.

”The waves roar over the deck. There is an intense, loud slamming, and hanging on to your bunk whilst trying to catch some sleep. Forget the 80s look with shorts and T-shirts and ray-bans, think survival suits and helmets. Forget a nice foie-grass on toast, think how do I get as many calories as possible in without spilling the whole lot on the ceiling?

”My four year old son keeps dragging us to the Volvo Dome to watch the Volvo movie. He loves the wild music, the pictures of waves exploding into white on the bow. For 10 minutes he doesn’t blink and his mouth is wide open in amazement. In the mean time, my wife is holding back tears and grabs my hand tight.

”At the end of the movie, he asks: “Daddy, you do all this for a trophy? Silly Daddy!” My wife in the mean time is thinking of the sleepless nights she will have when she knows we are pushing the boats down south with no help within days.

”And so, we are completely under water again and conditions are extreme whilst we are blasting east. Back to my bunk for another bumpy ride. We have a tight luff sail up, so less chance of broaching, pitch pooling or other nasty stuff. Phew!”

Extreme indeed.

Saturday 15 November 2008 19:30

Eight hours into the second leg and the fleet is zig-zagging its way southwards having cleared the Cape of Good Hope.

After fighting their way free of the fickle winds in Table Bay soon after the start in Cape Town, the leaders were pounding along in 17 knots from the south at about 10-12 knots of boat speed.

They are all seeking to hitch a ride on the low pressure system, lying south of the Cape, that would fast track them along the southern African coast if they can hook into it.

By the 19:00 GMT Position Report, a split had developed with PUMA and Green Dragon powering south, to the west of the rest, while Team Russia, the most-easterly positioned of the fleet, chose to hug the Cape of Storms. Meanwhile, Ericsson 3 and 4 occupied the middle ground along with Delta Lloyd and the Telefonica twins.

An ever-changing leader board had Delta Lloyd nomimally leading the way from Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 3 with over 110 miles covered.

The 4,450-mile passage takes the eight Volvo Open 70s south to the foot of South Africa via an encounter with the Roaring Forties and from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

The first point scoring opportunity on this leg will be when the fleet crosses from west to east – the line of longitude 58 degrees E, anywhere south of the latitude 20 degrees S.

The journey time is expected to be in the region of 18 days on this unique venture into the unknown. Tricky wind conditions, tough currents, monsoons, hundreds of small vessels and the threat of pirates are on the menu.

PUMA’s skipper Ken Read summed it up thus. “I have never entered a race or a leg of a race so confused about how the outcome may turn out. I’m expecting the unexpected in this leg,” he said.

”This is certainly a road never travelled – rather than less travelled – so we have to be smart, with our eyes open, and also lucky in this leg too. There are many obstacles out there, both above the water, such as unlit fishing boats, but also in the water that we have to look out for.”

“There are so many different route possibilities; we could all end up hundreds of miles apart. It’s going to be interesting for us, but it could be a hard leg to follow back home. It may be hard at times to see which boat is really ahead, and who has the advantage. It certainly keeps me awake at night. “

DELTA LLOYD ARRIVES IN CAPE TOWN

Ireland’s Ger O’Rourke’s last minute Irish/Dutch entry, Team Delta Lloyd safely crossed the finish in Cape Town to night at 2303 GMT (0103 local time), to finish the leg in seventh position.  Although they have been at sea for just 23 days, 10 hours, 09 minutes and 22 seconds (23.10:09:22), it must surely have felt like a lifetime, given the amount the crew had to learn about the boat and about themselves in such a short time.

Ger O’Rourke said, “It’s been a big learning curve and it’s not going to come overnight. I’m looking at this as a stepping stone for 2011. We’re learning how to improve every day.  When the Russians passed us, the crew morale dropped a bit, but we were happy we could keep racing (despite the mast damage). It was quite a good repair we made at sea and from that point of view, we’re happy to have sailed her here, we’ll repair her and we’ll be faster and wiser next time.”

Matt Gregory, navigator said, “We collected a lot of data on this leg and we’ll take that and figure out some new sail crossovers and polar tables for the boat.   We’ve broken some things and we have a big job list. I might go for a little wine tour tomorrow and then it’s straight back into it. We still have to figure out how to get to India. Nobody on board has every done that before!”

Team Delta Lloyd now ties with Team Russia, four points all, but the tie is broken in favour of Delta Lloyd who has more consistently higher results across the in-port race and the first leg.

Team Delta Lloyd’s entry into the 10th Volvo Ocean Race was only confirmed on 11 September 2008.  One month exactly to the start of leg one.  Where their competitors had been preparing and training for several years, O’Rourke’s team had just days.  Ger O’Rourke had acquired the winning boat from the previous Volvo and completely refitted it to bring it in line with the demands of this year’s event.  The full race crew was not formally announced until the crew arrived in the start port of Alicante, a day and a half before the official opening of the race village.

At the time, O’Rourke said, “I don’t imagine we will be super competitive in the first leg because we need more time to learn about this boat, but, by the second and third legs, I think we can be up to speed.”

The 6,500 nautical mile leg from Alicante to Cape Town was certainly a proving ground, with tactical decisions to be made early on in the course, particularly in the Gibraltar Straits and negotiation the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands.  The weather Gods threw everything they could think of at the fleet including strong currents, oily calms, high winds and huge seas, and Team Delta Lloyd negotiated it all in fine style.

With no time or budget to order new sails, Delta Lloyd has sailed this leg with their first and final generation sails, while some teams have used generation four and five sails.  Ger O’Rourke says the boat is still competitive, particularly in heavy airs where the square metres of sails they have may be the deciding factor rather than the generation.  They discovered, as late as day 21, that their fractional code zero sail was a more effective sail than the A6 spinnaker they had been flying.

“The Russians walloped us over the past 24-hours and the A6, AKA ‘the lemon’ was to blame.  It’s quite depressing, and bitterly frustrating, to be passed as quickly as we were, but not know sail crossovers is one of the difficulties with a late entry programme.  We are learning,” wrote navigator Matt Gregory.

They suffered damage to their rig 10 days out from the start, when the starboard jumper (part of the rig) was fell out of the rig and bounced down the deck, narrowly missing the crew.  It took the crew 12 hours to make a repair, which was effective even in the heavy westerly gale.

Ger O’Rourke says his crew will have a full day and a quarter to rest and relax before they set about the long job list which has to be completed before the fleet takes off again, on November 15, this time bound for Cochin in India.

The next boat to finish will be Telefónica Black in approximately 14 hour’s time.

Leg One Finishing Order into Cape Town
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA)
2. PUMA USA (Ken Read/USA)
3. Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders Lewander/SWE)
4. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR)
5. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED)
6. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT)
7. Delta Lloyd IRL (Ger O’Rourke/IRL)

Overall Leaderboard (Provisional)
1. Ericsson 4:  14 points (FINISHED)
2. PUMA: 13 points (FINISHED)
3. Green Dragon: 11 points (FINISHED)
4. Telefónica Blue: 10 points (FINISHED)
5. Telefónica Black: 6 points (RACING)
6. Ericsson 3: 5 points (FINISHED)*
7. Delta Lloyd: 4 points (FINISHED)
8. Team Russia: 4 points (FINISHED)

*leg one scoring http://volvooceanrace.org/news/article/2008/november/scoring-explained/

The next position report will be issued at 1300 GMT or as soon as the next boat finishes, whichever is the sooner.  Positions are available every three hours on www.volvooceanrace.org. Click on RESULTS at the top of the page to go straight to the points table and onboard data.

PUMA LEG ONE DAY 21 QFB: received 31.10.08 0936 GMT

Well, well… being on the keyboard after these last few days of ‘powerful sailing’  is a funny feeling. But it’s nice.  Nice to come back to something ‘normal’, something you can actually do rather than just hanging on waiting for the next crash . Now we are back in a more civilised world and Cape Town is getting closer. That smells good! But race is not over and doors are still wide open to any kind of good or bad result.

Conclusion of this last day is: ‘Congratulations E4, you’ve done a real demonstration, the level of both crew and preparation became obvious.’  But race and leg are not over, and we better whip ourselves and Il Mostro hard because, in the past editions, the winner of first leg won the race…

If E4 made a demonstration, we can see on our side that we have a good learning curve and still some more under our foot. This leg has been a fantastic ‘lab’ to get the last few missing knots out of Il Mostro. Close contact had been our best friend, almost ‘two boat testing conditions’, this made us stronger.

Now I have talked enough about this race and my thoughts and dreams are going to this moment where us and our families will become one again. A few of us had some peculiar dreams during this heavy sailing. Once I was steering in the dark, my mind found an escape and I ended up somewhere laying on the floor with my daughters and wife in my arms… Then I had to tell myself:
‘Come back Sid, that’s not the way to go, come back to your numbers and keep fighting’.  It shows how radical conditions bring us back to our roots and to the important things in life. Even if Anglo-Saxons are not big ‘talkers’, you can feel that in everybody’s eyes and attitude.

All right, back to our fight, we have an E4 to kill and a fleet to keep away; I am flying to my bunk and hope to come back on deck with even more anger.

See ya.

Sidney Gavignet – watch captain

ERICSSON 4 LEG ONE DAY 21 QFB: received 31.10.08 0917 GMT

Just sitting in the nav station, and I see that we’ve only got 695 miles until the finish in Cape Town.  For some guys, 695 would be the longest race they do and here we all are, treating it like we’re almost there!!

It has been an incredibly wet 4-5 days. The boys are getting sick of being washed into winches, pedestals and each other. I’m sure there will be a few bumps and bruises coming out over the next few days.

After the record dash, we did another 540+ day giving us almost 1200 miles in 48 hours!  I cannot describe what it was like on deck over that period. Wet, wet, wet are the only words I guess. The guys were extremely careful with harnesses and just taking their time doing everything properly. The last thing we need is a broken ankle or fractured eye socket!  It would be just as easy to hurt yourself below deck as it would be above.

One thing that has gone very well, is the interior of the yacht. We never missed a meal and the guys have been good at cleaning their stuff up. We do have a ‘clothing crimes’ bag onboard, so anything that gets left lying around will always show up in the bag. Hopefully the shore crew won’t be sick to their stomachs when they step onboard!!

We currently have Puma about 60 miles astern and she has now gone into stealth mode. Pretty tense times for us, but there’s nothing we can do about it except sail our boat as best we can. Who knows, maybe we’ll pull ours out soon……

The water temperature is much cooler now. The complaints about the heat are now long gone and we’re just starting to get the first signs of complaining about the cold. No one has any dry clothes left, so it’s quite unpleasant getting into wet clothing!!

No real majors to report. Dave (Endean) had his 30th birthday yesterday and thought he might get the day off and be allowed to spend it in bed. Unfortunately we needed him, so instead of a nice sleep in, he got me, dripping water all over him, waking him up for watch at 6am. It’s a tough life
We still will have a big job list for the shore crew and they only have about 12 days to do it so our mission is to get her there in the best condition we can, without compromising boatspeed.

That’s all for now. Better try and get a bit of sleep.

Phil ‘Blood’ Jameson – bowman

ERICSSON 4 SETS NEW RECORD

At 1310 GMT today, Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) obliterated the 24-hour record run for a monohull when the team recorded a run of 593.23 nautical miles.

The previous record (562.96 nm) was set by ABN AMRO TWO/Sebastian Josse/FRA during leg two of the previous Volvo Ocean Race in 2006.  The new mark is subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.
PUMA (Ken Read/USA), in second place, has covered 561 nm, just short of ABN AMRO TWO’s record.  The new mark translates into an incredible average speed of 24.71 knots in conditions not best suited for a record-setting run.

Skipper Torben Grael and his crew have been pushing the boat hard all night, first eclipsing the previous mark at 0355 GMT. They have been adding to the record since then, although the current 30 knots of wind is likely to ease.

“It is a great achievement, but we were not really looking for it,” said Grael in a radio interview this morning.  “What we were looking for was a good ride on this weather system, and to stay in it as long as possible.”

Grael said: “We are doing 30 knots of boat speed.  The wind is around 28 – 32 knots but the waves (around eight metres) are not very good for us.  Conditions are marginal.  I think we have been pretty much on the edge. Perhaps if we had a better sea state, we might be able to go faster, but it is hard to go faster with waves like this.”

This will be the third time that Juan Kouyoumdjian has produced a record-breaking design.  The Argentinean was responsible for drawing the lines of the two ABN AMRO boats both of whom held the record in the previous edition of the race, as well as the current Ericsson 4.

For some days now the teams have been anticipating the possibility of a record-breaking run as they ride the current weather system, but concern over damage has led some to back off a little bit.

Simon Fisher, navigator of Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) paid tribute to Grael and the crew of Ericsson 4. Fisher was the navigator on ABN AMRO TWO when it set the previous record.

“We have been way too close to the edge too early and, consequently, had to throttle back whilst watching the leaders streaking off into the sunset with a new 24 hour record,” Fisher wrote this morning. “Each position report has had the same frustrating story – more lost miles to the leaders. However at the same time it has been hard not to smile a little when you see the pace that Ericsson 4 has laid down. Deeply, deeply impressive to say the least.  It is a shame to see our old record from ABN AMRO TWO go, but, at the same time, these things are made to be broken and those boys are certainly doing it with style.”

Last night, Ian Walker/GBR, skipper of third-placed Green Dragon, and a newcomer to this race, wrote:  “This is insane.  Thirty-five knots of wind, pitch black, 1500 miles from land and we are desperately trying to squeeze more speed from a boat that feels and sounds like it is going to self destruct any second.”  The boat is currently sailing at around 29 knots.

From Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT), navigator Wouter Verbraak says that on deck the spray-helmets are out and everybody on deck has their harness clipped on.  “Below decks we are desperately trying to hang on in our bunks.    The crashing, banging and squeaking of the rudders, the roaring of the water over the deck and the rushing of the water along the hull are just insane, and it is only when you put some music on your iPod that you can escape from this world of violence.”  Both Team Russia and Delta Lloyd (Ger O’Rourke) have taken a dive south to reach the favourable westerlies.

At 1300 today, Ericsson 4 was positioned slightly north of PUMA with Green Dragon behind them.  Further north still is Ericsson 3 (Anders’s Lewander/SWE) with Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) behind and to windward.

Telefónica Black has ripped two sails, which according to MCM Mikel Pasabant, made last night even harder, but the team was cheered to see their first Albatross, considered to be a good omen.

“Let’s see what happens.  He is a magic bird, the way he flies, without moving a single feather, effortless… amazing,” described Pasabant.

Leg One Day 19: 1315 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to leader)


Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 1694
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +34
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +76
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders Lewander/SWE) +113
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +145
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) +155
Delta Lloyd IRL (Ger O’Rourke/IRL) +315
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) +337

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