Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
The struggle to Cape Town continues for the beleaguered Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA). Overnight the team made little or no progress, covering just 140 nautical miles in 24 hours and averaging 5.9 knots, but at 1000 UTC today, as the team hooked into a new low-pressure system, it was a question of slowing the boat down as she raced towards the finish at over 18 knots.
“It’s pretty brutal onboard,” said watch captain Daman Foxall. “We are bouncing along now, so we’re actually trying to slow the boat down to avoid unnecessary risks,” he said.
Overnight, bowman Brad Marsh described what it felt like to be onboard Groupama 4:
“We are trying our best to get back to the real world, but at the moment it feels kind of like we are on parole for some horrible crime none of us can remember committing.
“We thought when we crossed the equator that King Neptune had informed us of all our wrongdoings and punished us accordingly. However, it appears that another mythical and equally important character named ‘Uncle Huey the Wind God’ has decided he would like to add salt to our wound.
“Imagine Sebastian Vettel’s Formula One car running out of petrol on the final lap and then watching him jump out of the driver’s seat and try to push his car around the track in order to finish for some vital championship points, a similar scene is happening here now on Groupama 4 in the grand prix of offshore sailing.
“For the last 12 hours we have been sitting in the middle of a high pressure system that has absolutely no wind at all. No matter how hard we attempt to trim the sails and urge our boat towards Cape Town, it is Uncle Huey and Mother Nature who are having the last say and are currently laughing at our attempts.”
With 108 nautical miles to run to the finish, computers have been predicting a finish today at around 1630 UTC, but as Brad Marsh says, “Our estimated time of arrival (ETA) has begun to sound like an old person’s Bingo game. Basically a lot of numbers that are not worth taking note of recently, as they are subject to such a great range of change.”