Team Blog - Nick Dana - 29th November 2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 | by ADOR

Another healthy start to the day for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. After a hearty South African "braai" last night at the team base, a few of us decided that we should probably burn off a few calories today by climbing up one of Table Mountain’s smaller cousins; Lion's Head.

At around 10:00 a.m. this morning we began the trek under stunning blue skies and barely a breath of wind (rare for Cape Town!) A few hours later and a couple hundred metres up, we were overlooking the incredible turquoise water sprawled out in front Cape Town and the adjacent town of Camps Bay. I have now done this climb four times, and it never ceases to impress. Table Mountain and its adjoining peaks, The 12 Apostles, are truly a wonder of nature.

However we must not forget why we are in Africa, where the scale of almost anything seems several times bigger than that of the rest of the world, and can often leave you in awe for hours on end. Same goes for its weather. While this morning we enjoyed several hours of blue-bird climbing conditions - tomorrow, or even later this afternoon we could very easily see wind speeds of 30+ knots sustained! It's a tricky place to predict sometimes, but no doubt it will make for an exciting import race come the 10th of December.

Tomorrow morning Azzam arrives on her ship at 0600 hrs local time. An eight man team comprised of both sailing and shore team will greet her at the industrial docks in Cape Town and bring her around to our new base within the VOR village. Once safely at our base, the fun will begin. The familiar long days, and sometimes long nights that are synonymous with this race will once again be enjoyed. The shore team will be back in their element and the excitement of racing will take hold of everyone involved.

date: Tuesday, 29 November 2011 19:15:17 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Ian Walker - 29th November 2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 | by ADOR

Flying in to Cape Town airport was not what I had planned when the race started on November 5th. But I think it’s fair to say that Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson didn’t plan on either and I’m pretty sure Ken Read and his team didn’t expect to be playing golf in Trista de Cunha!

The Volvo Ocean Race has already been full of surprises. I arrived just in time to welcome in Telefonica after their fantastic leg victory. Three teams may have dropped out but make no mistake this was a very impressive win.

For me it has been a very strange few weeks. After a week sailing Azzam to Lisbon and working on logistics I have enjoyed a week at home followed by a week in Abu Dhabi en route to Cape Town.

Abu Dhabi is getting geared up for the stopover with the race village infrastructure and plans really taking shape. It is going to be fantastic and I have lots of friends and family coming along.

Back here in Cape Town we are fully focused on making sure we are 100% ready for the restart in order to do as well as we can on the leg to our home port. The team have all regrouped now and we have the advantage of being fresh and still at a good weight – not living on freeze dried food for three weeks is a bit of a relief.

As a group we have decided to stop looking back over the ‘incident’ and to focus only on moving forwards. The ship ‘Red Cedar’, bringing Azzam to Cape Town, is on time and due in on Wednesday morning. All being well we will be sailing by the 7th December with two days training before the pro-am race. We would love to get back into the race with another in port win.

date: Tuesday, 29 November 2011 11:58:42 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Nick Dana - 15th November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011 | by ADOR

The mighty Azzam still awaits her ship. The crew is doing the final preparations for the loading, which will hopefully be tonight. The load team consists of Justin Slattery, Simon Fisher, Wade Morgan, Ben Davis and myself. Considering the wind hasn’t dipped below 15 knots since we have been here, and the tide moves through at about 3 knots, we should have plenty on!

Wade met with the loadmaster this morning and it looks like we have a nice little spot carved out in the middle of the ship amongst a sea of 40ft. containers. Azzam will travel with rig out and on her keel. Everything on board is wrapped up, tied down and awaiting approval of the boat captain Wade.

We are following the race quite closely still, wishing we were out there battling out in the trades. Then again we are not complaining about the two-hour lunches with 3 different courses that you can actually chew. No doubt we will be the heaviest team once we reach Cape Town.

More updates to come, as we know more about the loading times. Never a dull sight seeing a Volvo 70 getting hoisted a hundred feet in the air, and placed down in a ship that makes it look like a toy boat in bath tub.

date: Tuesday, 15 November 2011 19:26:43 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Nick Dana - 14th November 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011 | by ADOR

And so, the race to Cape Town has finished for us, and the race to get Azzam on the ship has started. It always amazes me that some of the world’s best sailors have other skills as well.

Yesterday saw Satterthwaite and associates carpentry masterclass. For four hours, Craig, Justin Ferris and Simon Fisher toiled away with chip board, 2x4 planks of wood and a selection of power tools and screws, to manufacture or new mast cradles that will hold our precious spar on the deck of the yacht all the way to Cape Town.

While there is still a real sense of loss, there is also a real sense of camaraderie amongst the team that warms the heart… having trained for three months in Cascais near Lisbon we have many friends here who have dropped everything.

Vincent, and his wife Joana have even left their 1-year-old daughter with their in-laws and become our lifesavers here on the dock, shipping, organising and even brining the food down to the lads.

It's at times like these that we should remember what a special sport sailing is, to have friends around the world, who are prepared to put family aside, to help a fellow racer in a time of need.

date: Monday, 14 November 2011 12:22:57 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Ian Walker - 12th November 2011

Saturday, 12 November 2011 | by ADOR

After deciding to divert to Lisbon and head to Cape town by ship rather than sailing, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing now have a new race against time.

Azzam needs to arrive in Lisbon by Sunday morning in order to have time to take down and pack up their spare mast so that the yacht can be loaded onto a ship on Monday morning. Currently their trip is going well and they are 150 miles South of Lisbon in building South Easterly winds.

Ashore the team are frantically getting everything in place and ready for the yachts arrival.

Skipper Ian Walker reflected “at times like this we are grateful for all the contingency planning we have done and the dedication of the shore team. Nobody could have imagined breaking a mast in the first 6 hours of the race but it is better that it happened there than in the middle of the ocean. With this plan we can hope to start leg 2 in A1 condition. There is an awful lot to be done to get to that point but I am confident it will work out well. This is only the beginning of a very long race."

date: Saturday, 12 November 2011 12:30:26 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Ian Walker - 9th November 2011

Wednesday, 09 November 2011 | by ADOR

The last few days have been tough on everyone in and associated with our team. I must thank our supporters for all the messages of goodwill the team and I have received. I also can’t thank the shore team and the team from Future Masts enough for their efforts to get us back out here racing.

It has been a huge effort and we are only back out here so quickly because of this work and the logistical planning behind it.

I wish I could say we were now racing with clear minds but we are not – it is not normal practice to step a new mast and set off in the dark and straight offshore – new masts can sometimes take days to tune up but we don’t have that time. We also don’t have the safety of a spare mast waiting for us if anything goes wrong.

The stakes are now very high and we must sail accordingly. Right now we are taking it one step at a time – we will not sail fully loaded tonight until we can check everything in daylight.

Just like falling off a horse it takes time to regain your confidence but you simply have to get back on it as soon as you can. We are also still awaiting the final analysis of what may have caused the mast failure. If we have any concerns we could still be forced to stop again.

For now, however, I am going to enjoy sailing with a full moon and clear skies and we will start to find Azzam’s rhythm again. As somebody wrote on facebook – Azzam may have lost a feather but she will soon grow it back and soar again.

date: Wednesday, 09 November 2011 10:08:51 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Nick Dana - 6th November 2011

Sunday, 06 November 2011 | by ADOR

The boat's mainsail and J4 were retrieved successfully along with various other parts that we will hope to re-use.

We put a man in the water (Wade Morgan) to cut away the top of the mainsail at the headboard car. Wade was able to make several attempts at cutting. However, a very violent sea state made it extremely dangerous for him to remain in the water.

The crew retrieved him promptly and were able to get the mainsail off the lock - allowing it to slide down the rig and be pulled from the water.

The mast from the first spreader up is now secured to the port side of the boat. About three or four metres protrude from behind the boat. A spider web of lines is keeping the operation intact. The crew are deeply disappointed.

date: Sunday, 06 November 2011 09:30:13 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Ian Walker - 5th November 2011

Saturday, 05 November 2011 | by ADOR

Wow – what a start. That has to be the most chaotic 40 minutes of sailing I have ever been involved with. Six teams with only 10 sailors trying to throw their 70 foot boats around a tiny course in 25 knots of wind.

I am not sure what our guest Zinedine Zidane made of it but he looked happy to get off!

We are already approaching Cabo de Palos only two and a half hours into the race. We have been struggling a bit at high speed reaching as we expected against the three Juan K boats but at least we have just overtaken Camper. I don’t foresee much rest tonight as we push on upwind towards Gibraltar. We are getting settled and will eat early while the waves are not too big.

date: Saturday, 05 November 2011 19:34:18 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog - Ian Walker - 3rd November 2011

Thursday, 03 November 2011 | by ADOR

It seems unbelievable that the start of the Volvo Ocean race is now upon us. In two days time we will be setting off on the 6,500 mile trip from Alicante to Cape Town.

Azzam is loaded. My bag is packed and we are all ready to go. The team has been buzzing this week after a fantastic win in the first in-port race. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has already made its mark on this race and hopefully we have a lot more to offer. It feels great to be at the top of the leader board – long may it last!

Some people are now saying that we are the favourites for the race but let’s not get carried away. One light air race win does not mean that we have the boat and sails to win offshore.

What it does show is that we have a really good team and that we are well prepared. There are five other teams in the same position. Leg 1 is a one of my favourite legs with lots of downwind sailing and tactical decisions. We have been studying the weather closely and working on our outline strategy.

It is going to be very tight as to whether we can exit the Mediterranean and link into the trade winds before they shut down or not. The weather here is rain and no wind today with a large Atlantic storm approaching so it’s a good job we are not starting today.

We still plan to sail this afternoon for a final system and sail check. After that my family arrive so it will be time for a bit of relaxation tomorrow and my last good night’s sleep for three weeks.

date: Thursday, 03 November 2011 14:24:33 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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