Bouwe Bekking on Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race
[Source: Bouwe Bekking] Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09 starts Saturday, November 15th. This time the fleet faces 4,450 nautical miles from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cochin, India, the first completely new and unknown leg of the race to be sailed by the eight participating boats. No knowledge of these waters means that the teams will have to rely on statistics instead of experience. Now in his sixth round the world race, Bouwe Bekking feels confident in the days before the start of the second leg thanks to the preparatory work done with navigator Simon Fischer.
"We have studied data of this area collected from the last 16 years, so we have good understanding of what can happen in general. But clearly it will be a matter of keeping an open mind and adapting as we go along." 16 years means 16 different situations for this time of year to study, but prudence may be the key to success, or in Bouwe's words: "Stay close the fleet, and don't do anything drastic, that's our idea for this Leg. I think the boat will do all the good work for us."
Strategy plays a very important role on this Leg, especially when one faces light to medium conditions, which is the theoretical situation for most of Leg 2. "Hang in there for the first couple of days and then strike once getting close to the equator," Bouwe explains. The weather forecast for these first days of racing may shows a contrasting scenario in comparison to the theory, but the team of TELEFONICA BLUE is working with the forecast they have been given: "First we can go upwind as we leave Cape Town, then run in big breeze once we start heading North in the Indian Ocean."
Big breeze is exactly what hit Cape Town this last week with gusts up to 60 knots, an unwelcome and unexpected situation that is destroying the teams' schedules. "The locals have told us that it is never like this. We have been talking about what you would do if you had conditions like this at the start; common sense says you wait until the gale is over. But if you see others leave, you can't stay behind. Luckily we don't have to make that decision, as the wind will lighten off. The topic of discussion for the last few days has been how quick you can be back on the water after these stormy days here in Cape Town. My opinion is not to rush as I prefer to keep everything in one piece."
Since the finish of the first Leg some of the teams have made crew changes. This is not the case with TELEFONICA BLUE as Bouwe explains: "I was happy with my team, so there is no reason for changes. I could see very good progress and development of our team members so it would be shame to get them off, and have to build up somebody else again. We are on the right track."
"The crew is feeling confident and are fit. Of course we have had a little set back with the weather, but that is the same for all the others. We are on top of things."
Time is too short in Cape Town
This first stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09 has been short and perhaps even too short. For Bouwe Bekking's team, the stopover lasted just 12 days before the restart of the race. "I haven't seen much of Cape Town this time; it was home, base, home, base... Marginal time for recovering, it would have been way better with another 5 days!"
Luckily, the 6,500 nautical miles from Alicante to South Africa have not been so bad for the health of the blue Spanish VO70. "The job list was relatively small, with the only 'big' changes being in relation to the sails," Bouwe explained.
Speaking about changes, we take a look at the load of the boat for this second leg, which will be shorter than the previous one but pretty tricky in terms of calculating the route and the amount of days on the water. "We have made some changes to our food and have adjusted our calculations for fuel consumption, based on the experiences learned on Leg 1." Clothing is another area that has undergone changes. The route from Cape Town to Cochin leads the fleet across the equator for the second time, but also passes through areas where low temperatures will mean more clothing required than usual: "Basically we are bringing everything to cover both the cold parts and the hot bit at the end, so it's a relatively big wardrobe."