Sydney-Hobart Report: A Look Inside the Volvo Ocean Race 60

On location report by Dennis Perkins

PerkinsVolvo

Dennis Perkins

December 15, 20051300 HoursSydney, Australia We arrived in Sydney on Wednesday morning (losing a day), dropped ourbags at the hotel, and headed straight for the Cruising Yacht Club ofAustralia. Visiting the CYCA and having a drink is now a ritual for me,but this time it seemed even more important. Somehow, I felt that justbeing around the home of so many sailing greats would help me absorb"the stuff" I'll need for the Sydney to Hobart Race. Our formal training regimen starts on Saturday, but we were both eagerto see a Volvo 60 up close and personal. So on Thursday afternoon I wasstanding on the boat with my partner, Ed Smith, and Getaway Sailingskipper, Peter Goldsworthy. What a feeling!Stepping from Ed's J29 to this vessel was like stepping into anotherworld. The Volvo Ocean Race 60 raced round the world in 2001 as Djuice Dragonand was purchased by Getaway Sailing just 2 months ago. In its firstouting with the new owners, with "Goldy" at the helm, it won the Gosfordto Lord Howe Race on line honours, PHS handicap and set a new courserecord.The boat is certainly a racing machine. Below is a series of pumps thatmove water to tanks on either side as ballast in heavy air conditions.We tested it on the dock and loaded 5 tons of water into the port tankin about 30 seconds!There is little else below. The first third of the boat is a watertightcollision compartment then a 2 burner gimballed stove as a galley, andthen 3 rows of pipe berths nessled between pipes for the water ballastand structural ribs and stringers. I was trying to think of how todescribe the Spartan interior of the boat to my new wife, Susan, butgave up. I'll just tell her there is slow room service.Our day was spent measuring and surveying the condition of sails (Thereare at least 30 sails, some over 20 meters to a side) andtroubleshooting a leak in the pump system. Fascinating to watch thebanter...lots of humor, lots of "hand me this or that, mate," and goodhumor all around. The day ended with beer and sailing stories recounted by Goldy and Johnofrom Getaway. Everyone in Australia seems to have a nickname, and now Iwish I had my father's and could be "Perk" instead of Dennis!Tomorrow we will meet the rest of the crew and get to know our teammatesfor the race. I can't wait.