Bubb on the Volvo
It’s taken me a while to find the enthusiasm to sit down and write this report. The end of leg two was undoubtedly one of the more depressing moments in my racing career so far……however thankfully there were some very good bits too! We had a fantastic start to the leg, heading into the south hammering along at well over thirty knots, occasionally ‘dismounting’ in spectacular fashion, getting battered down the deck by breaking surf and feeling that hugely addictive adrenalin rush as you got prepared for action down below before arriving on deck to face the elements. Passing the scoring gate in fourth was definitely the highlight of the race so far and we will certainly take heart from that as we look ahead.
In every respect this was a leg of contrasts, Southern Ocean in 40 knots, freezing temperatures and mountainous waves, to the Indian Ocean, a sleeping giant with warm gentle summer breezes most days, but the threat of hurricanes and pirates just around the corner. As we headed north into the Indian Ocean and lined up our Doldrums crossing, it became apparent that a viable option was to try to pass further to the east than the boats ahead. Well our big break to the east didn’t pay off… as any ocean sailor knows the Doldrums are an area where tactical skill must be mixed with good fortune to achieve success. What looked so promising at one point turned to disaster as we floundered around for five days and watched the rest of the fleet slip away from us. As we battled the elements, we managed a staggeringly poor 34 miles in one 24 hour period whilst battling a 2 knot equatorial current in an average windspeed of 2 knots. It seemed crazy to think that this very boat had been banging in 500 mile days earlier on. All this drifting around brought back memories of the HSBC Oryx Quest in 2005. We had raced non stop around the world, something like 25,000 miles in just over 60 days and were heading up the Indian Ocean to Qatar, when we fell into similar conditions. In the end it took us nearly 2 weeks to finish off the last 1000 miles. There is a reason why most yacht races don’t come up here……..
I like to think that we weren’t late to Cochin, more the others were early! As we motored up to the dock after crossing the finish line in eighth, we were informed that our finish had coincided with the official race village opening night. As a result we were mobbed by literally thousands of Indians and in the end had to be protected by armed guards as we made our way up to the main stage; all a bit intimidating when you’ve just spent the best part of three weeks with only ten other people in your world!
After a few days in Cochin handing the boat over to the shore crew to carry out repairs and improvements, all the sailing crew then had a few days off and Beno and I once again ended up heading off on a short adventure. After our safari in Cape Town, we choose to continue the theme and caught a flight out to the tiny Island of Agatti, around 100 miles to the west of Cochin, for a long weekend of diving. This proved to be a great plan as we saw two metre long nurse sharks, stingrays, turtles and millions of multicoloured fish, all playing around the reef just 100 metres offshore. This coupled with the white sand beaches and hotel room under the palm trees were a pretty good way to forget leg 2 and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead!
We restart on Saturday the 13th with the major aim of getting to Singapore in time for Christmas….which could be a close run thing. Just under 2000 miles of potentially very light and tricky conditions and a route littered with fishermen, modern day pirates and all sorts of unusual hazards. Thankfully Kosatka is once again back in good shape and we were out sailing today, carrying out a few sail and system tests.
Anyway as usual, thanks for the encouraging messages, always great to hear from you all. Take care and if I don’t see you before, HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!!! Wish us luck, hope you like the pics.