Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bouwe Bekking, focused on the last three weeks of the VOR

It may be just 1,250 nautical miles from Galway (Ireland) to Marstrand (Sweden), Leg8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09, but for Bouwe Bekking and the TELEFONICA BLUE team it's more than simple distance: it's a fight for eight valuable points and another chance to win.

When comparing this leg to others, like the "monster leg" from China to Brazil(12,300 nm), this one could be seen as a simple "tourist trip" for the VO 70s, but in this race everything counts, as Bouwe says: "Of course we would like to win the leg, as that will mean gaining points on Ericsson 4 and Puma. In that sense it's not much different from any other legs."

However there are many differences between these European legs and the longer offshore legs, as any sailor may tell you. Bouwe summed it up nicely: "You can sayit is different as it is much shorter than the previous ones, which means if you area head there is less time to get passed by other boats but clearly, it is also the other way around if you are behind. The other difference is that we go around a lot of corners: the southwest tip of Ireland and England, the northern tip of Holland and Denmark, so cutting corners means less miles."

For the first time in a long while, Bouwe will sail through home waters on his way to Marstrand, making this leg something special for the Dutch sailor: "It will benice to sail through home waters. I am familiar with them and hope that will give us that little extra something that could make the difference!"

Knowing part of the route means knowing the difficulties along the way. "On the way from Galway to Marstrand there are lots of difficulties: huge tides, in some places up to 5 knots, navigating the rocky corners of Ireland and England, shallow banks to pass in the channel, and lots of shipping. Not an easy route at all!"

But there is still more to consider on the 1,250 nautical miles of this leg: the weather conditions. "Normally you would believe the weather history and it should be relatively light, as we are getting close to high summer. But we have already seen a couple of times in this race where the history didn't match the actual weather..."