Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Front to back

Its not much fun being Neil McDonald at the moment. Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean race has been a near rumb line drag race, with the various teams showing what their boats are made of. At the front yet again was ABN AMRO ONE, the black boat showing her legs whenever the wind picked up. At the back was yet again Ericsson, overtaken even by ABN AMRO TWO with its split main.

The emails on the Volvo site describe the feelings of the crew and the mental energy needed to keep them going when they see yet again boats fly past whatever sails they set, leaving them stuck at the back.

This has happened enough for worries to mount that there is nothing they can do. Captain JP's three rules of how to win an ocean race (see below) only applies once you start. There's also a zero-th: get a competitive boat.

Last time round the world Neil crewed and then skippered Assa Abloy which must have won their hearts with her ability to kick her heels and fly to the front. It seems they have no such luck this time, no prospect of being "first after Australia".

When competing in a race that takes all, body and soul for months, requiring endless committment, to make that extra effort when drained to ones core, this is a bitter cup to drain.

Meanwhile at the front it's a different story, with two of the boats that have been longest in the water fighting a glorious tacking battle all the way to Wellington. This will be a leg climax to relish, the fat boat ABN AMRO ONE that likes strong winds having to fight movistar inch by inch in winds light and getting lighter.

Watch this space!

Captain JP's three rules for ocean racers:
(1) Don't break anything critical
(2) Get the weather routing right
(3) Sail fast

Pictures from Virtual Spectator

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