• 23-MAR-2015

  • SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race

A gentle Southern Ocean introduction so far but…

A gentle Southern Ocean introduction so far but…
- A gentle Southern Ocean introduction
- But several injuries and damages have been reported already
- Team Brunel leading by 50nm
Southern Ocean, March 23 – This Southern Ocean is a strange place. The six teams are now heading towards the ice limits that they should reach by Wednesday, and they're starting to experience the Southern Ocean: stronger winds, grey skies, grey seas.

So far though, conditions have been better than what the veteran sailors were dreading. The worst is coming up this week. But despite the sailing being easier than planed, injuries and preventives repairs have happened over the weekend.

MAPFRE had a scare on Sunday when they heard a loud bang coming from the bow. It didn't appear to be damaged but the Spanish crew reinforced the area with sail battens anyway. In the 2011-12 edition, skipper Iker Martínez's boat Telefónica suffered a bow delamination, forcing them to a pit-stop for repairs. This time around, Iker is being prudent.

Team SCA's Annie Lush and Dongfeng Race Team's Martin Strömberg both had big health scares over the weekend."Yesterday as I was trimming the main in 20 knots and steep waves, I got propelled from the windward aft side of the cockpit where I was standing wedged against the comms cage, flat onto my back on the leeward cockpit floor. Luckily the tether on my harness prevented the wave catapulting me too far, so nothing is broken (except my pride!) but the hit has left me black and blue, living on pain killers, and it quite literally is a pain in the arse! Being injured onboard is incredibly frustrating" wrote Annie in her blog the following day.

Martin's hand is OK, but he could easily have lost a few fingers. "I got stuck in a block when trying to remove a knot on a rope and I was thinking, 'don't put your hand there, don't put your hand there,' but then I saw an opportunity to loosen the knot and put full tension on the rope," he wrote."My hand went into the block and was stuck for a while until I got help. I thought I would lose some fingers but I was lucky with some flesh wounds and blue fingers. It will hurt the rest of the leg but it will probably be OK soon. Yet, it will be hard to fully rely on my hand when it gets tougher in the Southern Ocean… I will have to hold on."

Team Brunel leading into the Southern Ocean

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) managed to gain a 51.1-nautical mile (nm) lead on Monday (0940 UTC) with 4,750nm to go to the finish in Itajaí, Brazil. The infamous Cape Horn remains to be negotiated on the toughest of all nine legs.

Overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) lead the chasing pack with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) bunched behind them.