Since today is just another groundhog day aboard Azzam, I figured it would be good to change it up a bit. Here is a written version of my chat / interview with bowman and boat captain aboard Azzam, Wade Morgan.
ND: Tell me Bubs (Wade Morgan), what do you see as being game changers for this next leg aboard Azzam? Modifications, routine changes, strategy etc…
WM: Well with regard to modifications to the boat, we have not had too many. It’s true we felt we were a little off the pace at times in the race so far, but we’re confident in the boat and feel that we can help stem the losses at our weaker angles by shifting weight in the stack a bit differently.
ND: Can you give me a few examples of how you are adjusting your stack?
WM: For starters we have added around 200+kilos of extra food to our stack roster for this leg. This, along with a spare dagger board should dramatically improve our righting moment and hopefully keep us a bit more competitive upwind. Not to mention keeping us fed if the leg continues on a slow as it has been so far!
ND: Any changes to the routine - watch system, manoeuvres, responsibilities...?
WM: Watch systems have stayed the same - we’re pretty happy with everyone’s work ethic at the moment and are all on the same page as to what we need to do to go faster. We also have a fresh body joining us for this leg in the shape of Paul Willcox, who has been on reserve for us since the start of the race. Manoeuvres wise, not much has changed either. Maybe just a few details in our peels and positions during heavy weather sail changes, but boat handling in general is something that we have always felt we were pretty solid with.
ND: What do you see as being the primary challenges of this leg to Auckland?
WM: Honestly – as a boat captain, it is my responsibly to make sure Azzam is working to her max during each leg. My primary challenges don’t change very often; mostly they just increase with heavier conditions. If the boat continues to function as it has so far in the race, and we are able to keep up with the fleet during our traditionally tougher upwind angles and make gains in our stronger down wind angles, we’ll hopefully be leading the pack into Auckland in 19 – 20 days time.
ND: Last question – How’s your head?
WM: (Laughs) my melon is fine. I’m more worried about the J4 furling unit I head-butted. It was a nasty sail change that’s for sure, and when you mix a 5m short-chop sea state with a 120kilo bowman, things are bound to get a little hairy.