Volume 14, Issue 23 ~ June 8 - June 14, 2006


The Spirit of the Volvo Fleet Sails On

Some days, we think we have it tough dealing with traffic on Rt. 50. Or bad hair. Or ants on the kitchen counter. Perhaps, we don’t have it tough enough.

Coded in our DNA are the senses and instincts that girded our forebearers against hungry predators and marauding attackers.

These days, we middle class, first-worlders seldom encounter sufficient danger to get the adrenaline flowing.

But not those Volvo sailors, our modern day Argonauts. For out there on the oceans, all the dangers of the sea lurk, threaten and inspire.

Just ask Bay Weekly columnist Steve Carr, whose dispatch from Britain reported: “On Brasil 1, I felt like I was riding atop a living, breathing animal, a modern sea dragon.”

Continuing Bay Weekly’s Volvo coverage, Carr followed the fleet to Portsmouth, England, reporting on the sailing, partying and grieving of those intrepid sailors. In recent months, Kat Bennett has kept us up to date on the race with her weekly stories.

From Carr we learn that these world-class sailors party with the same fervor that they race. As you’ll read in his story, we’re just happy that (1) our Annapolitan could hang with the hardcore Volvo crowd; and (2) that he didn’t fall out of the boat the next day.

As he describes in his dispatch, Carr became acquainted with his kindred spirits in Baltimore and Annapolis. The Volvo Ocean Race fleet, which had survived the tempestuous South Seas, then traversed the North Atlantic, the very waters that linked the Old World and the New World and a veritable pond compared to earlier race venues.

But as everyone knows, the sea claimed a life, Hans Horrevoets, and a boat, Movistar.

The bereaved crew of ABN AMRO TWO decided to continue racing in memory of their 32-year-old Dutch teammate who was washed overboard, and set sail with the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Leg 8 from Portsmouth on June 2.

Now, the racers are circumnavigating the British Isles in a pokey, high pressure system, hoping not to encounter any North Sea oil rigs. After rounding Northern Ireland, they sail even farther north past the Hebrides, turn right at The Butt of Lewis, and then toward the Orkneys. Next, they head east at Fair Isle and then south to Rotterdam, with the strong potential of running smack into the doldrums that plagued their ascent.

After this, the around-the-world race has one more leg to go en route to the finish in Gothenburg, Sweden, in mid-June.

We’ve grown up reading the epics of Odysseus and the like, but the Volvo sailors who came to our waters have enriched us beyond the millions in tourism dollars left in their wake.

Their indomitable spirits have touched us, and perhaps we should adopt the attitude that has rubbed off on Carr.

“No worries, mate.”

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