Team Blog – Ian Walker – 14th June 2012

Thursday, 14 June 2012 | by ADOR

Last night saw us hit our fastest speeds of the race so far. Lying in 5th position we decided we had little to lose by pushing as hard as we could. With boatspeeds surging to over 40 knots and averages in the low to mid twenties we thought we might make some gains on somebody ahead.

Sadly this fleet is so strong that the best we could offer still saw us losing a little to the leaders. It appears that nobody has had any breakdowns enough to slow them down and everybody is pushing just as hard as us! Despite all the crashing and banging we seem in reasonable shape as far as we can tell. We have just slowed down a tough for 20 minutes to change out a steering cable that was showing signs of wear. A broken cable would not be much fun at these high speeds. If everyone stays in one piece it looks like the race will be decided tonight by whoever gybes in the best position – getting the gybe in 40+ knots is not going to be easy either. Life onboard isn’t much fun right now. Eating and sleeping are both hard but we can console ourselves with the thought that all being well we should be in L’Orient tomorrow.

date: Thursday, 14 June 2012 15:16:56 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog – Ian Walker – 13th June 2012

Wednesday, 13 June 2012 | by ADOR

Whilst it is nice to have all the boats in sight I can’t say I have enjoyed watching Camper sail up and around us. It’s not the first time in this race we have seen their potency upwind. Everyone is jockeying for position as we sail into the corner of the high pressure. The wind has been as light as 5 knots but right now it has filled back in again to 9 knots and we are all moving well. Everyone is only too aware of how important it is to stay in touch with the leaders as the rich will certainly get richer when we head north on port tack after San Miguel.

Our plan was to stay just north of everyone but we haven’t been able to hold our height and we now find ourselves pretty much the southernmost boat. Maybe we will have to switch strategies and drive off for the shift instead whilst hoping we keep enough windspeed. Whilst too little wind is a worry right now, it will not be long before we may be hoping for less wind. All the weather models show a pretty intense low pressure for us to sail through on the way back to L’Orient so it is looking like a fast ride to the finish.

Whilst all the gear is as far forward in Azzam as we can get it right now, this time tomorrow I suspect we will have everything strapped on as far back as we can.

date: Wednesday, 13 June 2012 09:15:23 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog – Ian Walker – 12th June 2012

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 | by ADOR

As predicted, Groupama and Telefonica are giving a masterclass in reaching speed as the fleet slowly curves up in the lifting breeze towards the Azores. There is simply nothing the rest of us can do to match them until the wind changes or some tactical opportunities open up. The good news for us is that after 24 hours we can still see them (just) and we have hung on quite well to Puma.

As we have seen before we are also slightly quicker than Camper at tight jib reaching angles so we are currently ahead of them by a few miles. I think this leg is going to be in three distinct phases. First we have about 650 miles of power reaching of which we have already covered 400 miles. Next we will have a light air upwind section as we skirt the Azores high pressure and tack to round San Miguel. This will be about 200 miles and will take up most of tomorrow and tomorrow night.

Finally we will have 1150 miles of windy downwind sailing to the finish on Friday. The big questions on my mind are how much of a shake-up (if any) the light wind section could bring tomorrow and in particular will we be able to fend off Camper through this upwind stage, but perhaps more importantly how windy will the last few days get and what opportunities could that present? Which teams will try to sail the fastest route that negotiates gale force winds in the North and which ones will opt for a more conservative approach further south? Will the leg be won in stage 1, 2 or 3 above? Either way our task remains the same which is to sail as fast as possible for now and see what opportunities open up.

date: Tuesday, 12 June 2012 15:20:56 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Team Blog – Nick Dana– 11th June 2012

Monday, 11 June 2012 | by ADOR

I find it funny that by now in the race it feels more normal to be offshore than it does to be on land. Although Lisbon was an incredible stopover and reminded us fondly of our training days in Portugal before the race, we’re happy to be back at it. “It just feels natural at this point, we just seem to pick up where we left off” explains Wade Morgan.

The last sched had us losing slight ground on the Juan K boats that seem to really thrive in these conditions. However, we are still holding our ground, and remain on the virtual podium in third place. Camper is climbing up in course at the moment, allowing us to gain a fraction of a mile on them. Sanya continues to hold bearing with us for now, but seem to be sailing a bit lower to pick up speed.

The leg at this point it is still looking quite quick barring no issues with the Azores high-pressure system. “Our goal is to just stay up with the leaders until we get to San Miguel – once we bare off and begin sailing wide fast angles our chances improve” explains Justin Slattery. It will not become easy at that point however, there will be only 1100 miles of runway and any deficit will be difficult to gain back before the finish.

Should be a wicked week of racing in the North Atlantic…

date: Monday, 11 June 2012 15:26:07 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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