Cautiously Optimistic

28 May 2012: Atlantic Ocean, 600nm WNW of the Azores. A resurgent Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing lead the fleet by 90 nm in Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race. After a week of racing, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam is in a strong position leading the fleet. Light running conditions are expected for the approach to Portugal, which should suit Azzam. However, the crew are donning thermals and hats for the first time in the race since Leg 5, in the Southern Ocean. Watch Captain, Robert Greenhalgh is cautiously optimistic about winning the leg. “After a great team performance to win the in port race in Miami. The first few days of Leg 7, Miami to Lisbon provided highly erratic conditions ranging from a full on tropical storm to flat calm. The Tropical storm on the first night was pretty intense; thunder and lightening and 35 knots on the nose. After the breakages we have suffered in this race, we were all willing the boat to take the pounding and we came through virtually unscathed. The unusual weather made for a difficult few days and difficult decisions, especially concerning an area of high pressure centered right on the rhum line. The main debate was whether to stay with the free ride offered by the Gulf Stream to the north or head east and hope to get through. Whilst some competitors chose the northerly route and others the direct approach, we chose the middle road, just skirting the high pressure and it looks to have paid off for now but there is a lot of runway ahead of us still, so it’s vital that we continue to sail smart, not just fast, and remember what’s waiting for us just off Portugal, the agony of the breeze shutting down due to a convergence in opposing winds is highly likely. The next fEW days should be a good test for all of us both mentally and physically. We’re just happy to be upfront mixing things up a bit. North Atlantic weather systems are never easy, and this particular crossing is proving just how many elements are at work out here. We know that PUMA are going to be in a strong position for the next few days and will start to catch us up but we are trying to maintain as many miles of our lead as we can. My Watch is competing with Craig’s (Satterthwaite) to give it our all. All the best, Robert