Leg 1 assessment
At the beginning of the year the Volvo Ocean Race start felt a long way away but when we were standing on the pontoon waiting to leave for Leg 1 it felt like it had all come round pretty quickly. Alicante was packed for start day, on and off the water. It was quite exciting to have so many people around but once the start gun went off I didn’t realise there was anyone around as we had so much going on.
The In Port section of the race start was mental with two hours of non-stop work in wet but very hot conditions. Once we were off and away from Alicante it already felt like we had done a serious amount of work but that was just the beginning.
Turns out, the leg was no different to the start – FULL ON! Throughout the race there was lots of manoeuvres, sail changes, stacking. Just when it felt like there was a bit of quiet time on board, there was something to repair. I had a running joke with myself in the leg that every time I went to get in the bunk for some sleep, something would happen and we would need to wake up again. A few times I stopped bothering and just tried to grab some sleep on the floor staying in full wet gear to be ready to go on deck.
The beginning of the leg was pretty difficult for us! We caught a few things on the keel and lost time trying to get it off. We spent some time in sixth and seventh position, with the leading pack a long way in front. You could tell everyone on board was a little disappointed and struggling for motivation at times but everyone kept fighting and slowly but surely we started pulling back towards the leaders. Some of the leaders made some big navigational gains in the Mediterranean which can win you big leads or losses at times. For us to come back it was about pushing for every bit of boat speed we could find, making gains metre by metre. It was tough work but a good feeling knowing we were going fast.
The last few days we spent in very stable conditions with the wind fluctuating up and down. This meant we were always in the cross-over between three different sails which resulted in lot of sail changes. When you were on watch the sail changes helped to pass the time but when you get woken up from your bunk when you have just managed to fall asleep it is a bit harder to find the motivation. Coming in towards Lisbon we had worked our way up to third place but the finish into Lisbon is always quite difficult.
We sailed down Lisbon river with the wind dropping more and more as we got closer to the finish line but we were still moving. We could now see second placed Mapfre just ahead and they weren’t moving…maybe a chance to steal second! After a long descent down the river we finished in third place, a result everyone was very happy with considering how we started the leg. We finished just in time as the wind dropped and team AkzoNobel took another two and a half hours to finish the race, despite initially only being 1,000 metres behind us.
All in all a good leg but very tough. Leg 2 is fast approaching so we are busy trying to get in as much sleep and good food as possible before we go!
See you in Cape Town Jack