Volvo Ocean Race - Playing keep up onboard Puma's Mar Mostro

Now in the Azores High, Kelvin Harrap and Casey Smith spend some light air off-time keeping their weight on the bow, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 2 of Leg 8. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:

'Almost time for the big sail...' Ken Read.

We’re all in agreement: there’s something strange about sailing west. The last time we saw the sun setting in front of us was during the first week of Leg 1 while leaving the Med. After seven months of going south, east, north, south again, east again, and north again (everywhere but west), heading away from the mark towards the Azores is toying with the psyche a bit!

Fortunately, at some point today we turn north towards France, albeit straight into a nasty low-pressure storm that seems to build with each forecast (nothing unfamiliar about that, either...). But for now, it’s back to playing keep up with Telefónica and Groupama still just three miles off the bow. We have tried like hell to hang on in reaching conditions that we’ve always struggled with, because when the winds ease up like they’re supposed to, it will be our time to make up ground on the two boats that we need to beat.

Onboard life has drastically improved during the last few hours; the difference between 13 knots of wind and 19 is substantial. Our boat has been re-stacked, bailed, and powered up, and in general it’s much calmer, drier, and quieter. Even with some proper time off in Lisbon, the wear and tear of this race is catching up with a lot of us, and it is a pleasant change for sure – to get some rest before the difficult and taxing downwind ride home to Lorient.

As the aptly-named 'Azores High' settles in we’ll have some light air tacking to do in order to get us around the islands – never fun – but then it’s 'breeze on' again and we’re off on port tack towards the finish. A couple of 500-mile days and one jibe later, and we should be there in time for a proper weekend in France!

Volvo veterans and both Mar Mostro watch captains share duties on the coffee grinder, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Puma Ocean Racing website
Volvo Ocean Race website