SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race
First 72h - bumpy wet ride, seasickness and major split of the fleet
The first 72 hours of Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race have certainly lived up to that billing, pushing these sailors to their limits - and beyond. It's been a difficult adjustment back into offshore living for the six boats, which still have over 4,700nm of their journey from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand to complete.
Huge waves and furious winds in excess of 25 knots have battered, bashed and bruised the fleet as it voyages upwind through the South China Sea towards the Pacific Ocean. "It's like rodeo bull riding," writes Francisco Vignale (ARG), the Onboard Reporter for Spanish boat MAPFRE. "We are still seasick, and trying to switch to sea mode." And a lack of sleep since they left the tropical Chinese destination certainly isn't helping stress levels amongst the sailors.
And Dongfeng's Chinese sailor Jiru Yang (Wolf) might be nursing a sore head today after a gigantic wave crashed onto the deck whilst he was grinding, knocking him flying from one side of the boat to the other, where he lay crumpled in confusion. But despite the odd cut and bruise, he was okay.
Team SCA and Team Brunel gamble on northern route
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) have laid their cards on the table with a push north for more wind in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race as the fleet entered the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday.
The two crews must wait around a week to discover if their tactics to head towards Taiwan – in apparently totally the wrong direction – have paid off. Early indications are that they could earn rich dividends on the 5,264-nautical mile (nm) leg from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. The pair have taken a wider arc, further north, after exiting the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Luzon Island of the Philippines.
It is a 'fast lane' route that will mean that they will sail some 300nm longer than their four rivals, but they are banking on better wind to propel them clear. Eventually.
"So far, the weather models say they have got it right, but it will be six or seven days – or even more – before we know for sure," said the race's official meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante, on Wednesday.
Computers predict an arrival into Auckland around March 1.