A helpless, painful feeling

© Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
© Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Tension, helplessness and pain - the final few hundred miles of Leg 7 are tuning into an excruciating experience for the teams as they wait to see how the situation plays out.

For leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, not knowing if the boats trying to catch them have had more wind or less has made the situation unbearably tense.

"It has been an extremely painful 12 hours since we entered the high-pressure ridge," wrote MCM Nick Dana.

"Not knowing if the rest of the fleet is more pressure or less. Groupama is breathing down our necks to the south."

After leading for the last week of the transatlantic leg, Dana said the Abu Dhabi crew had a burning desire to hold on to claim their first leg victory.

“The boys’ determination to pull out a leg win seems to grow with every mile we get closer to the coast,” he said.

Emirati crew member Adil Khalid summed up the mood on board: “We do not hope to win. We want to win. We need to win,” he explained.

The situation overnight could not be any more tense as random pockets of breeze across the fleet raised hopes of a breakthrough into the fast moving trade winds before fading away again as quickly as they came.

For a rolling report on the latest positions, click HERE. 

On third placed PUMA, MCM Amory Ross said the American team felt they were now in the hands of the weather gods.

“It’s a helpless feeling, sitting here staring at the computers and their tortuous routing models,” he said. “There is only so much we can do and if anything, that has eased some of the stress and pressure riding on this leg.

“At some point you just say, ‘Well, we’ve done what we can and now we have to cross our fingers and hope like hell.’

“So here we are, all 11 of us, just hoping like hell.”

CAMPER MCM Hamish Hooper said Chris Nicholson’s team had at one point been totally becalmed overnight as the wind dropped to nothing more than one knot.

Down to fifth this morning, Hooper said the CAMPER crew were nevertheless resolute in their determination to pull out a podium result in the final 300 nm.

"After doing two 500+-mile days you notice every knot less boat speed," he wrote. "Even going eight knots feels like we are stopped. And believe me when I say we would be more than happy to make it through these painfully light miles doing just four knots -- at one stage we were doing 0 knots."

Co-skipper Stuart Bannatyne predicted the final day would not be easy.

“This could be the longest, most painful and intense 260 miles we have had in the race so far,” he said.

Latest estimates suggest the winning boat will cross the finish line in Lisbon between 2100 UTC tonight and 0200 UTC tomorrow morning. 

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