Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Velux 5 Oceans Makes the Volvo Ocean Race look like Romper Room

Fewer people have sailed alone around the world than have traveled to outer space. A far larger number (around 15,000) have climbed Mt. Everest. Meanwhile, there have been about 163 brave souls who've completed the 34,000 nautical mile trip around the planet by themselves.

After just two days into the solo around the world race, The Velux 5 Oceans, the shit is hitting the fan.

Pictures and emails are coming in slowly, and three of the six yachts have returned to port for repairs.

The latest, from 67-year-old Sir Robin Knox-Johnson:
"Rolled last night. Section of mast track bent. Cant remove all the screws so sail stuck. Heading Corunna but may take a day or two."
In case you don't know what "rolled" means, that's when the boat capsizes and "rolls" over---being completely upside down for a moment until it rights itself. Now imagine that in a 60 foot sailboat during hurricane force winds and house-sized waves. Oh, and you're 67 years old, to boot.

Here are some more reports from the front, just two days on:
"Boat breaking gale force headwinds and seas, comparable to those experienced in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in 1998 when six lost their lives, have been battering the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet all day."

"Reports from TV helicopter say that Bernard Stamm on Cheminees Poujoulat, technically race leader at present, is hove to under triple reefed mainsail alone and it is likely that the remaining boats are similarly in survival mode."

"From on board Saga Insurance, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston at 1510GMT sent a short email entitled 'Nasty'. It read: 'Wind 58 knots, storm jib up, sea white with spray, surviving not racing, but okay. Irish coffee.'"
And this, from the Hugo Boss boat's skipper:
"'Later on in the night I managed to get stuck in a net and it pretty much stopped the boat.' The heavy fishing net became wrapped around Hugo Boss' keel, the effect much the same as her dragging along an anchor. 'I had to cut it away and then wait until the morning to remove the most of it from the keel. It was really difficult to see in the night. I just used the boat hook to pull off whatever I could get and cut whatever I could. Then I couldn't really see what was left and I had to wait until day light to see if there was anything left.'"
More hellishness ...
"'The top of the headsail started to unfurl itself in about 50 knots of breeze," Thomson reported. "I was below deck at the time and instantly realised there was a problem. As the sail started to open it knocked the boat flat and by the time I got up on deck the top of the sail had completely shredded.'"
For you non-sailors, "knocked the boat flat" looks like this.

You can find the latest images of the guts and glory here. Sailing is hands down the toughest sport on earth...
You should post that tough as nails picture of Sir Robin you sent Colin and I.

That picture is the link from Knox-Johnston's name.
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