Calm before the storm

Franck Cammas at the helm © Yann Riou/ Groupama Sailing Team
Franck Cammas at the helm © Yann Riou/ Groupama Sailing Team

The shift in conditions from relentless slamming to a slow crawl has given the crews vital respite on board -- to carry out crucial repair work, recover from sea sickness and prepare for a return to fire hydrant conditions in the Southern Ocean.

Team Sanya have been among those working hardest, making repairs to the comms system and water maker.

Andres Soriano, Sanya's MCM, reported on Wednesday that both issues had been fully resolved, with what he described as a great act of seamanship from Richard Mason getting the water maker pump back working and "a long night of rewiring" from Aksel Magdahl and Mike Sanderson getting the comms back on board.

"All is up and running now so not only will we be able to get crucial weather forecasts for the Southern Ocean, but I will also be able to keep you all updated on life onboard," Soriano wrote.

The crew have also been using their time to check things over for the rest of the leg.

“We know what is ahead," said Mason. "Right now it’s quite pleasant but it can change and will change quite quickly, then it’s off to the Horn so we just want to check that everything is ready for those day that lie ahead."

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand have also been working hard on some cracks and delamination in the forward bulkhead.

"After a few calls back and forward to our trusty shore manager Coxy and engineer Gio Belgrano a plan for repair was hatched and work begun," MCM Hamish Hooper reported. "Lucky for us the weather had eased enough that Salty (Rob Salthouse) and Mike (Pammenter) could get straight into the messy and arduous repair work of grinding carbon, mixing resins bolting plates, and everything else in between.

"Twelve hours later the bulkhead is patched up, Mike and Salty are crashed out, the front end of the boat washed down and decontaminated three times over, and the galley back in good running order -- which I think is perhaps more important than the bulkhead as several of the guys were showing relative concern at the prospect of missing out on any meals."

Groupama sailing team have also been busy.

"Repairs, watertightness and other odd jobs are on today's menu," said MCM Yann Riou. "Nothing really essential, but we're making the most of this short respite to prepare for the next stage, which promises to be hairy to say the least."

For leaders Team Telefónica, the story has been a similar one.

"We've taken advantage of these conditions to regain our strength, eat well and repair the things that have broken over the previous days," said MCM Diego Fructuoso.

On board PUMA's Mar Mostro, the team are itching to get back into fast and furious conditions.

"After what was reputedly one of the most violent beginnings to a Volvo leg start ever, we’re now preoccupied with sunburns, slatting sails, and an abundance of renewed energy with nothing to direct it towards," wrote MCM Amory Ross. "Life is almost too easy: it’s warm, it’s dry, nobody’s yelling over wind and waves, and we’re hardly moving anywhere at all."

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have been making small but important gains from their position at the back of the fleet, while new recruit Anthony Nossiter, known to the crew as Nocka, is getting his breath back after a real working over in his first few days with the team.

"You couldn’t have had two more contrasting nights than our first two nights at sea on Leg 5," wrote skipper Ian Walker.

"The first was spent in survival conditions with driving rain, strong winds and terrible seas. The second was a beautiful night with clear skies, an improving sea but sadly only about five knots of wind.

"The good news is that it has allowed us to dry things out, check over the boat and get some rest. For some it should mean they can eat their first food after a lot of sea sickness on night one. The bad news is a distinct lack of progress towards Brazil.

"Nocka is settling in well after what can only be described as a baptism of fire. He must surely have been wondering what he had signed up to!"

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