Volume 14, Issue 20 ~ May 18 - May 24, 2006

The Volvo 70s Sail on to England

Racers Brave the North Atlantic

As they race toward Portsmouth, England, the 2006 Volvo Ocean racers split. Movistar stayed north, shooting for the shortest distance across the Atlantic and trying to regain the two hours forfeited for repairs. Variable light airs make north a tricky choice, but it has paid off in one way; Movistar is the only racer not slowed or stalled by rubbish, crab pots or fish.

The rest of the fleet spread farther south, hoping to catch stronger gusts for a faster run. That’s not all they caught, as ABN AMRO ONE reports, “This has been the worst bit of coastal water we have sailed from a rubbish standpoint. Come on all the New Yorkers that might be reading this, let’s see if this can be different when we come back here in four years.” On Brasil 1, Torben Grael noted: “the keel caught some fishing lines and made the boat go backwards. And we were sailing with 26 knots of wind.”

As Brasil 1 passed the coordinates where the Titanic sunk, Horatio Carabelli remembered the lives lost: “Feeling how cold the water is, it is amazing so many people survived.” He signed off “from the bloody cold North Atlantic.”

ABN AMRO ONE suffered the first breakdown of the race: first a broken daggerboard, then a fluid leak from the canting keel. A quick fill and a spare daggerboard put the boat back to 100 percent. Brasil 1 also struggled with hydraulic leaks and had to pump the keel every half hour to keep it canted.

Sailing through the world’s most dangerous fishing grounds, Will Oxley, of Brunel, reflected on the collapse of the cod industry. Biologists overestimated stock size. Managers set quotas higher than the over-estimates. Politicians didn’t listen. Fishermen took what they could. By 1994, northern cod stocks dropped below five percent of 1990 levels.

“We are in danger of repeating this story around the world, especially with the Orange Roughy, which can live to be 150 years. That has got to be enough to stop you eating them,” Oxley wrote.

Oxley’s team-mate Matt Humphries, said that he was not eating any fish that could be older than his granny.

On a lighter note, Paul Cayard wished all the Pirate moms a happy Mother’s Day.

In Leg 7 the fleet heads to a scoring gate at Lizard Point, the southerly point of mainland Britain, then up through the Solent’s strong tides to Portsmouth by May 21.

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