Horses for Courses
Leg 2 was very different to what people were expecting. Early on we all got stuck against a weather front, which were bumping into for five or six days and we didn’t come out to well because of it.
We nearly got through the front a few times but the wind died and the front just sucked us back up again. If we had stopped trying to get through to the north and headed south, the further east we would have got but every time we tried to get through we were just coughing up miles. In the end south paid, Groupama got round it there and it also disintegrated there, so being the most northerly boat, we fell into everybody else’s line. Also, the breeze died on us as the rest of the fleet got through. We had no breeze for about six hours, while the fleet sailed away in the new pressure and that kind of sealed our fate. It’s what happens and we have learnt from it.
We are starting to see the variation in performance from sail design; everybody has their sweet spots at certain angles. I don’t think we are as powerful as other teams in power reaching but we already knew that. Groupama are exceptionally fast close reaching, in the short sprint finish they sailed from the back of the fleet to the front in a 80º True drag race but everything is a trade and I suspect we are a bit more optimized than others for downwind. In the short run to the finish we made significant gains, which was very encouraging. Everyone will have their day, what it will boil down to is who has the most days.
Having said all of that I think that we are strong at many different angles and wind speeds and I certainly wouldn’t say the winner of Leg 2 did it on boat speed, not at all. Leg 2 was all about tactics and strategy.
Leg 3 to Sanya could be a feisty leg, hopefully it will be a bit benign passed Singapore but going along the coast of Vietnam, historically it can get very rough with a big sea state for a good few days. It is too far away to predict, we will just have to see what comes.
Right now, Abu Dhabi is buzzing. The whole city is talking about the Volvo Ocean Race and it is all over the TV and Radio, which is great. The Race Village is amazing, it is the best one I have seen over the last three races, Abu Dhabi are putting on a really good show.
All the best