Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Team Russia VOR qualifier: Day 6 - Almost Home

[Source: Team Russia] Navigator Wouter Verbraak reports from Team Russia on Day 6 of its qualifier.

Irish Sea, 25-30 knots of wind. Perfect conditions to blast us home on the final stretch of our 2000nm qualifier. It was five and a half days ago that we left Portland under stormy skies and 35-40 knot winds. Needless to say the first 24 hours were challenging in the English Channel and the Straits of Dover.

While blasting through the traffic separation schemes at 30 knots boat speed, Andreas [Hanakamp] reminded us about the hefty fine that Mean Machine managed to picked up last year, so we kept to the right lanes as best as we could. Not always easy!

To push our racing skills we set a course around the UK and Ireland, including the Shetlands. Plenty of corners to turn and variable conditions. Just what we need to check in on our latest generation of sails, work on communication and crew work.

However, the focus of the tests quickly turned to the food. As this is the only luxury we pretty much have on the boat, every meal that exits the galley is given a thorough inspection. Slow sails and poor crew work may hurt, but bad food for 35 days means mutiny! Several meals fortunately got given the approving nod, while others got banned immediately from the race menu.

Another item that has gotten the thumbs up are the kite board helmets. The radical looking sprayrails on the bow are living up to their reputation with noticeable improvement in high speed sailing, but man do they produce a lot of spray! Even at 15 knots of boatspeed, we are covered in a non stop salt water shower. Better than green water over deck, and FAST, so no complaints!

Highlights of the trip so far have been the great sailing conditions, surfing down the ocean swell, and rounding the Shetlands on a sunny afternoon. The very best however, is to be out with the boys and hear all the stories. With nine different nationalities on board, a joke or a good story is never far away. Veteran stories from Stig [Westergaard] and Guillermo [Altadill] are gladly challenged by the latest adventures of the under 30s.

The Volvo is first of all a race to get the team around the world, then a race to get the boat around the world, and then a real race for points and glory. This qualifier is giving us some great building blocks for the first two, and so we slowly getting ready for the real stuff in less then two months. Stay tuned, the Russians are coming.

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At 9:27 AM, Blogger Grayson, Torben, Espen and Lachlan said...

Good on you Wouter, we are looking forward to you getting around the world in first place!!


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