Volvo Ocean Race - Keeping it together onboard Puma's Mar Mostro

Tony Mutter lowers his shoulders against a giant wave over the deck. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 2 of Leg 5. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:

'It’s impossible to find anything on this boat… bags, gear, tools, people. Nothing is where it normally is and it’s all buried,' Tom Addis.

I can’t believe I actually told people on the dock I was excited for this. Naivety, in a nutshell. What I should have said, and the way I feel now, is I’m excited to get this over with! Like a bunch of little kids in the backseat, the question everyone has been asking is how much more? Unfortunately the answer remains unchanged. We have a long way to go.

The feeling is not dissimilar to a rough Sunday morning’s headache. You find yourself just sitting there trying to do something, but you can't because you lack the coordination, motivation, or energy. Sleep has been elusive, eating has been undesirable, and most everything is already wet. We've been in windier, we've been in wetter, and we've been in rougher, but it's the combination of it all that makes doing anything effectively hopeless. I can’t speak for the 10 other guys on the boat, but I wasn’t prepared for that kind of a start and it’s taken me a while to get up to speed. Casey’s still down with his bad back and Thomas has returned to the helm after recovering from his dislocated shoulder. Everyone’s showing a bit of wear for the worse, though it looks like the first batch of nasty weather is now behind us.

To be honest, I don’t know much about how we’re going against the fleet. I think we’re all relatively close and headed for the same spot of high-pressure transit, about 150 miles away to the southeast. The big winds and waves should ease, and we’ll likely be going upwind by nightfall (shocking!). The ridge of lighter winds connecting the two highs will present some calmer conditions and a chance to recuperate before the strong westerlies on the opposite side that will take us down and east through the Southern Ocean. Supposedly, that’s where the 'fun' begins!

I think our speeds have been just average, perhaps a result of sailing two men short for a few days of difficult sailing, but scheds haven’t carried the same weight and it doesn’t yet feel like we’re racing the others so much as it does like we’ve been racing ourselves. Trying to keep the boat together and trying to keep each other in good spirits and good health has taken total precedence. Once we settle in I suspect that will change, though normal routines are still far away. At least not as far as Cape Horn or Brazil.

Michi Mueller carries a spare wand and wind instrument to the top of the rig after losing the one already there in a big squall. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

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