EN ROUTE TO CAPE TOWN – "Did I mention previously that racing on these Volvo Ocean Race 65-footers is like being drenched in a constant fire-hose? Well forget that. It’s much worse.”
We’ve all heard of the extreme conditions endured by sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race and seen the remarkable videos and photos of the VOR 65s smashing into waves and being drenched with crazy amounts of salt spray.
Now we’re hearing straight from one of the sailors in the race, the Irish Olympic star Annalise Murphy, just how wet it is out there. Murphy is on the crew of Turn the Tide on Plastic and has filed part three of her diary for the Irish Times.
The sailors, she writes, have been wet all the time.
“Since leaving Lisbon at the start of this massive 6,500 nautical-mile stage to Cape Town on Sunday afternoon, simply standing on deck is like ducking under a waterfall non-stop. Except this waterfall is coming straight at you, rather than from above,’’ Murphy writes.
“We’re constantly surfing along at speeds well over 20 knots and the near gale force winds coming from behind us means we’re at our fastest point of sail. This speed-machine is simply soaking up the ocean in big seas as we move deeper and deeper into the mid-Atlantic.
“On my first night-watch at this relentless pace, I was wiped-out four times, blown backwards off my feet despite being on the winch grinder that is usually a firm handhold against the breaking seas.
“If not for my harness, I could easily have been swept overboard on any of these occasions. I clip on (to the lifelines) every time I go on deck. We all do.”
Sound like fun?
Murphy gives some compelling details, such as the time fellow crew Bianca Cook (NZL) was hit by a wave that caused her lifejacket to auto-inflate, and that it takes 15 minutes to put on all the protective gear sailors must wear.
And if you didn’t sleep well last night, don’t complain.
“I’m just trying to do my jobs as well as I can, stand my watches and get in as much sleep as possible to have enough energy as it’s pretty tough,’’ Murphy writes.
“Thankfully, the strong breeze has eased off as we sail steadily southwards though it’s still very wet on deck and everything inside and outside is soaked. Sleeping with a saturated pillow the whole time is pretty hard!’’
Murphy previously filed diaries on the food the sailors eat and being encrusted by salt spray on the opening leg.
She won the silver medal in the Laser Radial class at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Turn the Tide on Plastic is hit by a wave shortly after the start of Leg 2 from Lisbon to Cape Town in the Volvo Ocean Race. Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race