Seventeen days at sea: about deodorant, hugs and making as few mistakes as possible

By Edward Swier

She can list her wish immediately. 'A clean, soft and warm bed. A set of clean clothes, a deodorant stick, and of course a hug from my son Kyle '. After 17 days on a wild sea, Carolijn Brouwer looks forward to the end of the second leg in the Volvo Ocean Race. Brouwer is a member of the Dongfeng Race Team, with less than a thousand sea miles to go, Dongfeng is in second place in the race. The Spanish Mapfre is in the lead. The Dutch boats, Team Brunel and AkzoNobel, are coming in fourth and sixth. Coming weekend, possibly even Friday night, the leg will have its winner.

In past days the fleet in the Volvo Ocean Race is speeding up. In fact, at the beginning of this week, Dongfeng recorded no less than 519 sea miles in 24 hours, an average of 21.6 knots. A sea mile is 1852 meters. And so Brouwer and the rest of the Dongfeng crew sailed no less than 961 kilometres in one day.

Neither did the rest of the boats stand still. The fleet had delayed the crossing from the other side of the ocean for as long as possible so that they could reach these necessary speeds. Before the equator there was an emphatic course towards South America, undoubtedly a strange movement for non-sailors. However, those who travel much closer along the African coast know that he or she will sooner or later have to deal with a long wind. That route may be many miles shorter, but it will take much longer. And so a professional navigator will not choose that path.

Nevertheless, in the past days it was a joust between the various boats. Simeon Tienpont initially opted for a more east route with AkzoNobel, Bouwe Bekkings and Carlo Huismans Team Brunel surprised by suddenly sailing in 'Stealth Mode'.  Sailing in Stealth Mode means that you are off the radar for a day and that the competition is not able to track your actions. The crew suggested to sail a more south course, but chose for the most northerly position. It now show that it was not that profitable.

As said, the boats are currently sailing in an incredibly high pace. At Team AkzoNobel - with Peter van Niekerk on board - even had the hope that in the coming days they could break the record of Dongfeng. In the Volvo Ocean Race of 2006, Luke Molloy and Simeon Tienpont, as a member of the ABNAmro 2, were able to cover 562 miles. ,, Let's make an attempt to break even that record, '' said an optimistic Molloy via Twitter. However, the tables turend, AkzoNobel (as the most southerly boat of the second platoon) slowly sank backwards in the ranking.

At the moment it is no fun at sea. Temperatures have dropped and sometimes it rains. It is cold and wet on board. So it is not surprising that Brouwer longs for a warm bed and clean clothes. She will have a lot of crewmembers on board who will agree with her.

With these high speeds, caused by a cold front in the South Atlantic, Cape Town comes closer. It is expected that the first boats will be arriving on Friday or Saturday, there is a good chance that it will be in the night from Friday to Saturday. They then will have sailed a leg of no less than 7,000 miles. Mapfre is in the lead with about twenty, thirty miles. Blair Tukes crew is far from comfortable. Besides Dongfeng and Vestas 11th Hour Racing, he also does not feel safe from Team Brunel.

The main question is: what will the wind do in the coming days. On the route to Cape Town a high pressure area is lurking in the north-south direction. The question is whether it is smart to choose a more southerly route and to avoid the wind, or that it is smarter to sail right through it and thus sail a lot less kilometers.

Brouwer gives Dongfeng - that lost a lot of ground in the St. Helena due to a too easterly course and a windless period - a good chance. ,, The winner will not be the one who has sailed a perfect race, the win goes to the crew that makes the least mistakes. I feel that we are very focused and that we can still catch up. It is still quite a distance to Cape Town, but we're fighting for every meter. "

Perhaps even more than Brouwer, Nico Lunven, navigator of Turn the Tide on Plastic, wants to be in the port of Cape Town. Lunven became father of a daughter, Katell, during this leg. "Up to now, I have only seen a photo of her via email. I want to go home to hold her. " The boat is still seventh and last, with seven hours of sailing behind. Annemieke Bes, aboard Scallywag, is in fifth place just ahead of Lunven and of her AkzoNobel's colleagues.



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