Oxley’s Ocean Race: These are not your ‘eye patch’ variety of pirate
Zombies, I am surrounded by a boat full of zombies. No one has had a decent sleep for days as we constantly change gears and sails on board, trying to keep moving as fast as possible to the east. People are getting harder to wake up and you see eyes constantly drooping as we each struggle to concentrate.
It is day five of leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race and on board CAMPER we are heading towards destination “Unspecified Port A”. At least I think we are, as we have not yet received confirmation of our finish line. I think this is the first race I have started where the sailing instructions say that this information will be provided enroute.
Anyone following the Volvo Ocean Race will understand that Leg Two towards Abu Dhabi is anything but straightforward. Over the last few years the prevalence of pirate activity in the Northern Indian Ocean has been steadily increasing. These are not your “eye patch” variety of pirate. They operate from mother ships that will have been fishing vessels in the past and so there is no real way to easily determine whether the vessel approaching you is a fishing boat or a pirate as they do not even have the common courtesy to display the skull and crossbones flag! I jest but it is a serious business with the pirates making millions of dollars each year by taking people hostage. Consequently the sensible decision was taken to ship the yachts for part of the way to Abu Dhabi. Now, there is little point in doing that if the pirates know exactly where we are heading and so if we don’t know exactly, then they have no chance!
Anyway back to the race: our goal over the last few days has been to get to the east as fast as possible before we turn north. Typically this is the fastest way to get to the northern Indian Ocean. It’s the way the old sailing ships did it and our modern tools suggest it is still the best way.
The only problem is that there is a VERY annoying trough line of low pressure between the fleet and good winds to the east. This trough line brings rain and confused winds and a very confused sea state that is hard on the boats and the rigs. The trough is travelling at somewhere between 11-14 knots east. We are out the back of it, sail fast at 20plus knots then bang right in the back of it and stop. You can see that all the yachts are lined up in a north south line along the back of the trough. It feels like you have been on the open highway at 100km/hr and then hit the school zone and have to slow to 30km/hr. Hopefully we will be able to get through on the weekend when the speed limit is removed because the kids are not at school. The yacht that gets through first should have a big advantage on the rest of the fleet.
We then continue east till we can use a high pressure system to roll up to the north east. Looks a bit more straightforward than the last 5 days, or at least it did until two tropical cyclones popped up as forming on our computer weather models. At the moment it does not look dangerous but they sure look like they will mess up the weather picture. We will be watching these lows very closely and as someone who live in the tropics and went through a nasty cyclone earlier this year in Queensland, they certainly need to be treated with respect.
This leg has a long way to go with plenty of rolls of the dice to come. This time at least we are in the game!Tagged in: CAMPER, Volvo Ocean Race, will oxley
Recent Posts on Sport
- Brits on fire in the wet at Le Mans!
- iBet: Bale and Rooney transfer specials
- A changing of the guards in English football: From Sir Alex Ferguson to Jose Mourinho
- iBet: Look each way for value in The Cote D’Azur Open
- On The Road at the Giro d'Italia: We could have been on the tour of Siberia over past 72 hours
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter