Blue Blazes

Blue Blazes

Another great exclusive from our pal Bouwe Bekking, fresh from an amazingly close and gutsy win of Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Bouwe Bekking and CrewWho said ocean race is boring? This leg has shown just how exciting it can be! It was certainly a thriller for us, as it was a leg where you would go from the penthouse to the shithouse in matter of minutes.  You thought you  were safe, and then you’d stop. All that sweat and blood to gain a few meters that were gone in what seemed like seconds, and you started from scratch again. As most of you know by now, today was a real nailbiter. The closer you get to the finish, the few chances there are to overtake. I had to make a drastic decision this morning, as for some reason we moved too far offshore, going from 1st to 4th. I tol the guys, “we take our loss now – we take the sterns of the other boats and stay in the same piece of water – we know we are faster than them.”

We made some nice moves, and all of a sudden we were back in the lead, and extending! Why? Good boatspeed, but above all, the total understanding of where the breeze would increase and what changes in wind direction to expect – a very special gift that Tom Addis has. It worked out perfectly, and not to take away anything from the strong performance of the other teams, but everything just clicked for us today.

Just 20 miles before the finish, the breeze dropped from 18 knots to a mere 5. What we finally thought would be a piece of cake turned into another restart. Our boatspeed went from 18 to next to nothing, our lead nearly gone, but we again found a little pressure. We even managed to sail right over a fishing net which we hadn’t seen until just before reaching it. It suddenly appeared in front of us, and by creating max heeling moment, we barely ‘scraped’ over the net. Canting keels have the nice benefit of giving us the ability to reduce draft significantly heeling this big puppy over and going on our way.

At the final corner we knew we had the win in the bag, and we extended again to a three mile lead with a building breeze right to the finish. Job done, and a great feeling for all of us.

More importantly, we don’t have to do any blood test today – Thanks, team doctor! We will ‘abuse’ this opportunity to drink a couple of extra rums tonight.

Bouwe Bekking


[Rick Tomlinson/VOR photo]