My Spanish is not very good but I have noticed over the last week at sea constant reference to the word “cojones”. The gestures also make indications to size, shape, texture and preferred removal method. Grande/pequeño are simple enough to understand the concept. Square/round I am not sure of at all. Metallic/rudder/squishy allude to the confidence level. Having found initially scissors then a hacksaw followed by a hammer at the chart table left me in no uncertain terms that I may have to do the honourable thing for the team.
Making the big decisions at sea is never as straightforward as it looks. The situation after leaving the Mediterranean gave two stark choices, go upwind through a succession of fronts and ridges or go for the downwind option in the weak trade winds along the African coast. The Volvo 70’s are only given access to two long term weather models in a digital (grib) format. Armed with this information plus a few weather maps, the collective knowledge of the crew and the pre-leg homework of the meteo team you must evaluate the short, medium and long-term plans and the confidence of all options.
As all racing sailors know its best to be on the fastest boat then it comes down simply to a game of risk versus return. In a long distance race early problems are difficult to recover from and are not best for moral. Our early strategic choice to head westward may have looked completely ridiculous on a map that has the Cape Town very much south then east. The reasoning was that it was the fastest way to get to the ultimate goal and now as of Sunday night we may have answered the doubters by reversing the massive lead of “Groupama”. Currently we have position ourselves west of our rival “Puma” and are endeavouring to make “el pulpo a la cazuela” out of them, which I think is slow boiled octopus Galician style. After 8.5 days at sea we have only averaged 10kts towards out waypoint and completed 30% of the leg so we live in hope that the South Atlantic will be good for us all.
My nads may be safe for now but with 35,000 nm of Volvo racing to go it is just a question of time. When dealing with weather you are dealing with probabilities and they do not always work in your favour.