Volvo Ocean Race - Frustrating sailing for Puma's Mar Mostro

Moderately fast upwind sailing as the sun sets on Day 4. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 7, day five. Skipper Ken Read reports from on board Puma’s Mar Mostro.

This is strange. Not just the guys on board (pretty weird) or the route we take (sailing straight into a Tropical Storm after the start – not too bright). The strange part is the weather and the route and the fact that every time we leave the dock it seems like we say, 'It is never like this out here.'

Wherever you sail in the world when you ask a local what the conditions will be like, it’s a fairly traditional response for them to give you an answer that has little to nothing to do with what the weather currently is. 'It is never like this around here.'

You would think the law of averages would finally catch up with this fleet. No trade winds on a trade wind leg. Upwind on a downwind leg. Light air on a heavy air leg. And certainly plenty of heavy air on light wind legs. Really, the only legs so far that have panned out according to plan have been the leg to China (all upwind, so of course that would play out) and the Southern Ocean leg (windy as hell and cold, so for sure that would pan out!).

This could only be described as bizarroworld. Lead changes all over the place. Way behind to way ahead to way behind again. More weather features than you can shake a stick at. Typically this time of year you head north to a low, get in front of it and haul the mail to Europe. Not the case this time, it appears.

So what gives? Why isn’t it more straightforward? I wish I knew. This is the wind gods trying to make this regatta close in order to drive us all crazy and keep you on the edge of your seats. I think it is working.

Seems to me that everyone has lead at one stage or another on this leg except for maybe Sanya and us. We are the lurkers. For sure we have made a few positioning mistakes, but fortunately have been patient enough to let things just play out and hang around. Nothing great, nothing horrid to date. But the leg is still young!

Now we are going to go north in order to go east. Up the Gulf Stream, beating into a strong north-easterly with 3 knots of current under us (sounds like lots of fun) in order to drift through the center of a high and hopefully find a fast south-westerly flow that launches us towards Portugal. Let us hope that is how it pans out.

I have to say that last night it was pretty frustrating sailing. We had been emerging miles to the south and finally got a shift to jibe on and get back in touch with the fleet. I turned around during the jibe and there was the tiniest sliver of moon on the horizon behind us. As if someone was winking at me, kind of snickering maybe? I thought that may be the case and then turned around a second time to see the expression change a bit. I think the wink was to say, 'Don’t worry, everything is going to be all right.'

At least that is my story and I am sticking to it!

Puma website
Volvo Ocean Race website