Image © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race
Team AkzoNobel is on final approach to the finish line of Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race from New Zealand to Brazil.
At 1200 UTC (1400 CEST) the crew had 114 nautical miles (211 kilometers) to sail to the finish line off the Brazilian port of Itajaí.
The sailors’ progress over this final section has been hampered by lighter winds than expected slowing the boat to a virtual stop in drifting conditions this morning.
“The wind has gone lighter as the low pressure system has deteriorated a bit and moved offshore,” explained helmsman and trimmer Luke Molloy (AUS). “It’s a bit of a disappointment to everyone on board as we have been looking forward to the finish.
“At least we are not neck and neck with another boat at this stage so we can get a bit of rest and get some work done to the boat and get on top of the jobs before the next leg.”
Team AkzoNobel boat captain Nicolai Sehested was typically philosophical and pragmatic about the slowdown.
““To be honest I don’t mind too much,” he said. “For sure when you have had a tough leg – like everyone has – you would rather get in, get some rest and get away from it.
“But we shouldn’t complain – a lot of people have had a lot tougher leg than we have had.
We just have to keep sailing and we will get there when we get there – we can’t change anything about it.
“We are in a position where we got through this leg in really, really good shape and we should be grateful for that so far.”
With Leg 7 winners Team Brunel (NED) and second placed Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) already finished and the remaining two competitors Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) and Mapfre (ESP) more than 500 nautical miles (1,000 kilometers astern) the crew has finally had a chance to mull over what has been a challenging and emotionally charged leg.
“For the first time for a while we are not getting a fire hosing on deck and we can actually dry out the boat, eat twice as much as normal, and sleep like a baby,” Nicholson wrote in an email from the boat.
“Some time to take stock from what I think has been the most intense Southern Ocean I have done.
“I am still struggling with words for this leg: the bottomless sorrow we are feeling over the loss of John Fisher and the compassion we hold for his family and his mates on board Scallywag.
“We all have plenty of aches and strains, tendinitis, cuts, breaks, tears, great joy.
“Simply to get through this leg with our boat and crew still functioning is a massive achievement and we are all looking forward to closing out these final miles and getting ashore in Brazil.”
Latest estimate predict team AkzoNobel will finish Leg 7 tomorrow morning Thursday April 5. However this ETA could move forward dramatically if the team can hook into coastal thermal “sea breezes” common in the area at this time of year.