Nipping and Tucking in Sanxenxo

In the final days, activity at some bases are bustling to cover every last detail "possible."

A Lighter Bulb
Dave Reed

Activity in the Volvo Ocean Race compound kicked into hyperdrive today as teams either hauled boats or loaded stores. For the Australian Premiere Challenge it was an even more important milestone as the boat is now floating with a keel bulb some 1,300 pound lighter. Even the mast was stepped before the sun went down, but skipper Grant Wharington, couldn't even begin to describe what was on his team's to-do list. At the top of it, however, was a delivery of sails, for which he had to charter a private plane from Heathrow. Customs in Spain, could be his ultimate enemy, but he was buoyant his Whartington way, a standout among the hordes of uniformed crews and VIPs swirling around the compound. Bare bones budget it is, and a respectable first leg showing is what he's hoping for to put an end to his uphill climb. Deeper within the containers, there's a fair bit of tweak projects happening, partly little details picked up from other boats, and partly some afterthought improvements to anything that does not require major boat work. In another sense, it's a subconscious way to stay focused in the long leadup to Saturday's start. "It's tempting to want to start doing too much and the work list can grow longer," says Ericsson crewmember Jason Carrington, who built his team's boat. "But at this point you really don't want to take on too much." Easy for him to say, his boat's been loaded-food and all-since yesterday, and he says they're ready to go. There seems to be a fair bit of tweaking on the Pirates of the Caribbean, as Cayard's "Team Pimp My Ride" wet sanded rudders, sealed its mast base and tended to an assortment of issues below decks, especially at navigator Jules Salter's place of business. They're double checking systems and plugging any known leaks, which are par for the course on freshly launched raceboats like these. In the container of ABN AMRO, Andrew Lewis' mind was clearly pacing. They've done all they can to the "white boat," it having been around the longest, and he was simply waiting to load on the food and other stores and "get the hell out of Sanxenxo." For this first leg, Lewis has packed 25 days of food, which in comparison seems slim to that of Ericsson with 21 days. Across the fleet the predicted leg duration falls anywhere between 18 to 20 at the low end, and 26 at the high end, and Lewis admits he's probably over packed, but the weight is good movable ballast, and for power reaching, which is the preferred mode for the boat, he says anything to flatten the boat's heel angle helps. Lewis has an appetite matched by few, so it's no doubt a reflection of his caloric demand, too. More of the same tomorrow, but with a Parade of Sail down the coast to Vigo on Friday, tomorrow will be the big push for sure.