off nam or nam off?
Andrew Cape, navigator of Telefonica, breaks down their latest VOR win
I don’t know how Leg 3 looked from the outside but from where I sat it surprisingly makes the list of the hardest I have done.
Another great result for Team Telefónica however at no stage I thought we would win this leg. There were just too many unknowns that made picturing the end game impossible. We started this journey with a 1,300 nm light to medium air upwind stage from super secret Position A to Northern Sumatra.
Shortly after the start the masthead genoa tack fitting broke which also caused the bowsprit bobstay to fail with the subsequent repairs costing 15 nm on the fleet. It may appear boring sailing when viewed on a map but the subtle choices of heading have a huge impact on the outcome. So with a few well-timed ups and downs and the prerequisite fast boat we were able to recover into 1st.
Next was a 600 nm Malacca & Singapore Straits stage that I can only describe as a completely heinous place to race yachts. With thousands of ships, barges, fishing boats, fishing nets, sandbanks, rocks, robbers, race restrictions, blistering sun, diverging winds, big tides… it is hard to focus on the racing. I was relieved to just survive this area with the boat and crew in one piece but as luck would have it and much sweaty work from the crew we emerged with our lead intact.
Then it was into the South China Sea for a 1,100 nm upwind with reduced hazards but still plenty of fishing boats, nets, much more flotsam and good old wind shifts. Sailing into the increasing NW monsoon winds gave a few variations in chosen route with the short tacking along the South Vietnamese coast option coming up best. Tacking these boats is no fun as you have to move every single loose item aboard to the new side. As all ten crew are required for the manoeuvre there is no sleep for anyone if the tacks are frequent.
After moving out of south flowing current along the East Vietnamese coast and a dozen or so more tacks it was on lay line to Sanya. Followed by a few more near misses with fishing boats and a net that was 10 miles long confidence was growing that we would get the desired leg result. I was only satisfied we would win when the finish buoy came into sight and the bow went past it.
Now after three legs done we have formed a good idea of the characteristics of the different designs and setups and also a feel of how the others crews like to sail.
Sanya (the place) was described to me as the Hawaii of China and maybe it is but I would much prefer the real Hawaii.
Team Telefónica Navigator