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red v. red

Today is definitely not going to be a day of rest…
With the two red boats – scratch that – the red and yellow boat – no scratch that too.
In reality the relative perfomances of the two red boats in their individual match races over the next 12 hours could decide the outcome of this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
If Mapfre get past Turn The Tide on Plastic and Brunel holds off Dongfeng the Spanish team would sit in Itajai with a 1 point advantage.
It stays as it is and Brunel’s loose cover on Dongfeng is successful the tables are turned and it would be Dongfeng that has that smallest of advantages on the scoreboard but of course with the phsychological advantage of knowing they have finally overhauled Mapfre.
Easy to say that ‘ah well the Southern Ocean has helped them’ but think back to the last edition when the Chinese team started this leg in the lead only to have their mast tumble down destroying AND losing the top 1/3 of their mast at the same time.
One of my hopes in Itajai is that the other teams treat the obvious Mapfre mainsail issues and potential replacement rather more fairly than certain individuals tried to do with Dongfeng last time.
Some of you may remember that some tried to insist that Dongfeng continue with a Frankenstein mainsail of the of bottom two thirds and a new 1/3 third scarfed into the sail. Two parts of a sail, one with 20,000 miles of stretch and the other brand new out of the bag. Thankfully common sense prevailed and Dongfeng were allowed to use their pre-race training mainsail which although it had several thousand miles on it the stretch was uniform.
Then of course my preferred outcome that the Dongers can break Brunel’s cover and along with it gain that extra point from victory.
Biased? Of course, surely my screen name is a bit of a give away there. Not too biased though, after a chance encounter and long chat with Dee Caffari at Heathrow Airport while we were both waiting for the same flight to Gothenburg means I have a great respect for her – as a sailor and a person. The guys on Mapfre are good guys, always friendly and my daughter took a runner up spot at a Worlds several years ago as crew of one of the guys. Brunel is navigated by Capey, a true nice guy and friend of the family. Akzo & Vestas also have their own races to run, Akzo to make sure no breakages prevent what looks like a podium finish and Vestas to manage a long motor to Brazil in time for the required maintenance and restart with races within a race for them to get the required mast and sails there in time also.
And let’s not forget David Witt’s crew on Scallywag, theirs has surely been the toughest week of all.
I have lost friends at sea but never off the same boat but those are stories for another time (perhaps) so can only have an inkling of what they have gone through in the past days.
I have met Witty a number of times, in passing, teased him about his weight loss and over a pint or two and he is a human being like the rest of us. Sure John Fisher was the one that went over the side but I feel every bit as much for David who as a skipper lost his best mate, off his boat, in a tragic accident. So let’s cut him a bit of slack eh!
Anyway back to the racing! As I conclude 140 miles to go and Brunel is holding on and TTOP is giving up little.
Time for celebrations and relief not far down the track. Somewhat subdued no doubt with thoughts bound to be, at least partly, for their fellow competitors who are berthed on the other side of the Andes from them.
Whoever wins, wherever people end up in the results congratulations for making it through, it is nice for us mere keyboard captains to dream of the Southern Ocean – these guys and gals actually have the t-shirt.
SS