Think sailing in an around the world race is all free-flowing grog, swash buckling and timbers being shivered?
The Volvo Ocean Race, which consists of six boats, is suffering from a sever lack of breezes to propel them from just east of Vanuatu on its way to New Caledonia. From there, it is on to Auckland, but the fleet is becalmed by a vacuum that has limited them to speeds between one and seven knots.
The lack of a breeze to fill the sheets is the result of cyclone Gita. The fleet was due in Auckland early next week, but they have been on the current leg for 15 days and face the prospect of food rationing, as the boats had something in the neighbourhood of 20 to 22 days’ worth of food with them.
Blair Tuke, on the boat sailed by Mapfre, is sounding hungry to be sure, filing this report: “If there is one thing I will eat when I get home (to New Zealand) it will be a steak and cheese pie, and an L&P.”
The six boats are within sight of each other and they hope that the forecast of slowly building breezes as they move to the south is accurate.
Turn the Tide on Plastic snuck by to grab the lead on the current leg after they found the whisper of a breeze during the night to get them past Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag in the otherwise dead calm Doldrums.
Scallywag skipper David Witt gave vent to some frustration over the lack of wind. “It’s just a shambles here. You are where you are and you get what you get.”
Officials in New Zealand expect as many as 500,000 sailing fans to come through the village erected for the New Zealand stopover. Those fans might see the fleet come in, and then again, they may not.
After stopping in Auckland, the fleet of the Volvo Ocean Race will take on the South Pacific en route to Brazil, where the problem may shift from lack of wind to a surplus of wind.