in it to win it
Leg 4, Day 19
9 March 2012
Amory Ross, MCM, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG
LOCATION: 230 miles NW of Cape Reinga, Northern tip of New Zealand
BOATSPEED: 12.6 KTS
WINDSPEED: 19.7 KTS
SAILS: Reefed main, small jib
DISTANCE TO FINISH: 440 MILES
I don’t know how I managed to fall asleep last night with all of the crashing – each wave sent me farther down the bunk, bare feet invading Tom’s nav station – but at some point I guess I did. I woke this morning to my alarm, staggered forward to start on breakfast (we’ve moved from cold cereal to hot oatmeal), and the galley retainer strap was already in place. Code Red, Defcon 4…26 knots, right on the bow, terrible sea state, and a huge swell. Man! Can we please get an easy day somewhere along this leg? No way, no how.
Fortunately, we can tough it out and we’ll be within shouting distance of New Zealand and it’s northernmost Cape Reinga sometime overnight; Auckland is less than two days away. Un-fortunately, we’ve got lots of upwind work remaining, including a good deal of starboard tack headed northeast, where each mile we sail brings us no closer. In fact, it’s almost a perfect right angle to the rhumb line. So, even though our distance to the finish is tantalizingly low, we’ve got a deceptively long way to go.
An optimist would suggest that’s a good thing, though. We’ve pulled PUMA’s Mar Mostro back into the hunt with a positive night of sailing – our first in a long time – and we’ve crossed the bow of Telefónica to reclaim a second place we very much want to keep. There’s no time for back-patting though, as it’s going to be a complicated last few days. CAMPER and Telefónica are too close to cover both, and it hardly needs to be said they’ve got incentives of their own. CAMPER’s undoubtedly feeling the hometown pressure, and Telefónica hasn’t finished a leg anywhere but first.
Nonetheless, Groupama and first place are still in reach, and that’s always been the objective – to win this leg. We’ll have to find the balance between being aggressive towards the French, but not overly so that we risk exposing ourselves to Telefónica and CAMPER. Either way, once around the Cape we can expect a challenging downwind run along the beautiful New Zealand coastline, one that we’ll hopefully want to remember for a very long time.