Image © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race
Despite lightening winds overnight it has been another 24 hours of minimal sleep for the team AkzoNobel sailors on Leg 11 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Gothenburg to The Hague.
Although the crew remains in fifth place today team morale has been raised by the fact that an overall compression in the fleet means they have considerably reduced their deficit on the leading pair – Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) an Mapfre (ESP).
At 0700 UTC (0900 CEST) today team AkzoNobel was within nine nautical miles (17 kilometers) of the leading duo.
“This morning I woke up to being able to see all the boats,” said team AkzoNobel bowman Brad Farrand (NZL).
“It’s almost a restart. We’ve got Dongfeng and Mapfre at the front, and then Vestas [11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA)] and then us. So we are hopeful of being able to catch them.”
Team AkzoNobel has been trading fourth and fifth place with Dutch rival Team Brunel since yesterday afternoon. This morning as the pair tacked upwind towards the final turning marker before the boats will head for The Hague, Team Brunel had a marginal lead of less than half a nautical mile.
With sixth and seventh-placed Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG) and Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) only a couple of miles further back, team AkzoNobel watch captain Chris Nicholson (AUS) said the racing was intense.
“We are fighting on multiple fronts,” Nicholson wrote in a report from the boat.
“We are trying to make gains on the leaders, whilst fending off Brunel, Scallywag and TTOP.
“We are hoping for more passing lanes, but no one is giving an inch. We are all pretty tired but still enjoying this great racing and it’s pretty cool to push yourself in this manner.”
After opting not to take sleeping bags on this the final and shortest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, Nicholson said the crew was ruing the decision not to bring them – and for more than just the obvious reason.
“With all short races like this where you are going around multiple landmarks and buoys, it’s extremely hard to get any sleep,” he said.
“I think we have some of the best sleeping bags in the world and I have to say I have missed using mine on this leg. It will be the same on all the boats I’m sure, but so far most of us have stayed in our wet weather gear ready for the next move.
“You can tell some people’s feet are not coping well, as there is a smell down stairs that makes your eye water.”
Based on the current weather data the seven-boat fleet is expected to complete the circa 1,000-mile Leg 11 from Gothenburg, Sweden to The Hague in the Netherlands on Sunday morning.