Bouwe Bekking: Washing machine through the horror storm
A great team effort brought us through the horror storm. Monster waves and a max recorded windspeed of 55 knots (before the windgear busted) gave us a lot action and the lead in the race.
Unfortunately, our teammates on the black team didn't survive and sustained major damage and had to retire. Up until then, they have had a great race, and we were neck in neck when this happened to them.
Being onboard in these conditions is like being in a washing machine that is being continuously hit by a sledge hammer in the mean time: very, very noisy.
Telefonica Blue rides through the storm, leading the race. China Sea, 25 January 2009. Video copyright Equipo Telefonica
We sailed most of the time with 3 reefs and the stormjib up, with the keel in the middle and all the sails downstairs as well, just to make sure we could sail as slowly as possible, but with enough steerage to avoid the big waves.
The only thing I could do was give my thoughts and input from my bunk; the word “frustrated” is not strong enough for how I felt. The boys did a great job nursing our puppy through these conditions, and above all, they understood that the main goal was to come through without damage; when they asked for more sail, I denied them.
We sailed that way until the moment I felt comfortable. Being downstairs you can really feel what is going on. I can tell who is driving and when there will be a big launch off a wave; you feel one with the boat.
Last night we tacked to sail away from the finish, as we started crashing too hard. We allowed ourselves to invest some of our lead, you can't have it all. As of this morning we are full in race mode again.
Oh, yes, I am feeling better and can move around a bit again, so no excuses for not writing more.
Can it get any worse? Telefonica Blue is hit by waves 12 meters high and winds reaching 50 knots. China Sea, 25 January 2009. Photo copyright Gabriele Olivo / Equipo Telefonica / Volvo Ocean Race