I’m addicted to the three-hourly position reports coming in from the Volvo Ocean Race. I also seem to spend a lot of time communicating with Clouds, our weather guy, about what he thinks is coming next.
Along with Joe Allen and Rod Davis I was in Sanya with the guys for the week of the restart. I’m no tourist but I thought Sanya was actually a good stopover. So long as there was an easy way of getting back to the hotel, life was simple.
Stopovers have never been anything more to me than a hotel, gym and a dock where the shore facilities are housed. Sanya met that criteria.
I found at Sanya a team totally committed to the job. I couldn’t believe how tight they were. I expected that someone might say “can I talk to you”, but not even a hint of that. In that respect Nico and the guys have done perfect job.
I woke up the morning of the Sanya in-port race thinking: “Training has gone well (it had), the team is tight (it is) and we will go out today and slam them, it all feels right”. We went out and sailed like absolute dicks!! I stood with Rod on the chase boat not able to believe what we were seeing.
Dusted ourselves off, have another chat and then in to the “restart” before the 12-hour weather shut down at the dock. OK, the start could have been better, the first beat was OK, then on beat two a brain explosion and then a jammed gennaker set at the top mark. Head in hands again!
But still there was that quiet determination.
Then was into the leg proper… From the second they left Sanya they have hit every shift spot on. The weather calls have been hard to make, but make them they have, and they have set the pattern for the other boats.
I could not be more pleased with how they are sailing and right now they are setting the standard for the leg. On the other hand, Telefonica and Puma particularly, have looked out of sorts, not quite sure where to go, uncertain.
I think though that when CAMPER turns to head south that Groupama will be a handful. That boat is seriously quick reaching and doesn’t really show any major downsides except perhaps light airs downwind.
Our weather calls to date also need to reflect the skill of our on-shore weather expert, Clouds. He drilled into them day in day out that they had to get east before going south.
So for now, while living those three-hour cycles night and day in Auckland, every thought I have is with them. I have been hard on them I know. Here at Emirates Team New Zealand we expect a lot and right now they are responding brilliantly.