Living on a heel is starting to take it’s toll

April 28th, 10.00 Bermuda boat time

We have been going upwind for a day or two now, with a nice breeze between 12 to 24 knots. We had a few hours of fun with a slightly better angle with the fractional up, but this did not last long. The routing to the Azores is now looking like another 1100 miles of upwind beating, roughly another 100 hours. Our onboard Ozzie is now steering, with 8 Sydney Hobarts on his name. The Sydney Hobart is also mostly upwind beating, so he is in his element. His Dutch is also improving and everything is now “prima”. We did the day record yesterday, as we sailed around 450 miles in 24 hours.

The boat is constantly on a heel of anything between 15 to 30 degrees angle. This is starting to fatigue people, as for anything you do, you need to grab on, and hold on. You have to be careful, otherwise you will make a tumble throughout the boat, which might end in a much worse situation. I am starting to notice the wear and tear also. Hands have some sheet burn from the main, my face is roughing up on the combination of sun, salt and the jacket. Everywhere you have bruises and scrapes
from the boat and my body is getting tired. Getting up, go to the toilet, gearing up and get some food and drinks is starting to go slower and you need to keep up attention constantly. Johnny and the pro crew do their best to keep up the humour and good spirits which helps incredibly. A good laugh makes everything bearable.

Once outside, everything is ok. Driving is still really cool and I am starting to get to know Team Brunel a bit. I am trying to adopt what I have named the “Mapfre stealth mode” from our onboard Spanish Volvo veteran. When he is driving the boat just starts running the waves, speed goes up and the true wind angle nearly does not change. And when you look at the wheel it just does not move….. I get Team Brunel in the groove about 75 percent of the time now with a good polar performance of average above 90%. Hopefully by the Azores this will be closer to a 90% / 100% ratio.

Wildlife spotting has been extended to one group of dolphins, quite far out, and two turtles. It seemed we were crossing a trekking route of a big turtle species. Imagine how long it would take to cross the ocean swimming and doing that every year…

Otherwise it is just life on board now, and I guess we have around another 100 hours or 15 watch shifts to go before we reach the Azores. Still dreaming of downwind angles, but all hopes are now set on the leg from the Azores to Europe where normally the southwestern winds prevail.

Well, I am gonna sleep now while Team Brunel is whistling a bit. She makes this sound when you run her at 104% + polar performance J I guess the Ozzie is doing his job.

Good dreams…. Mariette Koekoek

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Goodbye Caribbean, Hello Transatlantic!

Monday 25th of April, 8.30 Bermuda boat time

I think I am in love with the Volvo 65. She showed us last night,
working together with the Transatlantic Ocean and her pro crew what she
can do. And it is impressive! We left Bermuda with a totally changed
weather forecast, which showed an upwind beat and reach to the Azores
with a light to moderate start at 15 knots. However the wind kept
building and building throughout the night. We changed the Fractional to
a J2 jib at sunset, just as a precaution. I drove her with one reef
until we had around 30 knots on the clock and it was decided to reef the
main to the third reef. This might seem overly safe, until you’ve seen
the numbers on the clocks. For all those safe at home, you’ve missed
some hell of a ride, 44.8 knots true wind on the clocks. So the pro’s
had their thrill seeking night out, as they drove over the continuously
building waves and took her for a ride. And she loved it, as did I. I
couldn’t stop smiling and did the main for some 6 hours in a row next to
some of the drivers who took her around the world. This was an advanced
lesson of wave riding. She has such fast rhythm, you have to keep up, or
else she will take you for a ride……. And what a ride it was, Johnny &
Miss Volvo Brunel, thank you!

As always, at sun up, it seems like a dream and the wind quiets down,
and you question yourself if it was real…..Some of the guys loved it,
others were thoroughly impressed. It is something else to see Mother
Nature out there in force. Those guys who loved it were easily
recognizable in the morning by the smiles on their faces and their salty
red eyes. Some stayed below to ride it out from inside, which might be
even scarier, as you have to trust the people outside blindly. And the
nice lightweight carbon hull transfers every sound in enough decibel to
deafen you….. waves hitting, wind hauling, grinding winches, water
hitting the deck and flowing of the hull, dripping water inside,
bleeping GPS alarms, some voices outside trying to be heard…….
But if you carefully listen you can also hear every wave:

“Whiehooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”

That just might have been me that you heard………

Mariette Koekoek

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A pitstop in Bermuda

A quick pitstop in Bermuda to have some extra fuel, a good meal and to say hi to the friends of the America’s Cup! Eta Azores: 29 / 30 April

IMG_1224

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Sailing Holland BV

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