There is a contagious buzz at the moment on board Team SCA--and I don't think it's because of the food. On second thoughts, part of it may be related to food, but I think this is mainly down to the fact we have less than 10 days to go until we get to eat pancakes in America!
The real reason for the excitement, the laughter, and the infectious smiles, is that after eight days, we're still in the mix. We cannot see the other boats, and at first it was very disconcerting, however at the moment we are in a prime position in line with the leaders.
This is a first for the team and it's about time. In the past legs, traditionally speaking, we've had notoriously bad days: Friday nights and day six had a tradition of being particularly tough, but we've made it through both. Now we need to get through the next hurdle: the Doldrums, which is historically a no- wind zone.
Instead of hitting a figurative wall, we've continued to sail at speeds in the 15-20knots. That's like being able to drive full throttle when there should be rush hour traffic.
Though this is very exciting, it's important to remember that the fat lady has not yet sung, and it is still too early to get excited and celebrate our current position. While we are indeed getting closer and closer, we still have about 3,200 nautical miles until we reach Newport.
We still have to keep our cool and sail smart. We have to keep our performance levels up and keep working the boat. The other day was particularly challenging as we watched MAPFRE and Team Brunel sail over the horizon and out of sight. We couldn't match their boat speed and that made for a very intense and emotional day.
Our speed is essential this leg as there's not too many opportunities to navigate through to gain (or lose) miles. For example, in leg three there were many places to lose or gain, especially in the Malacca Straits. This leg is all about straight line sailing, so to sail leisurely is not an option if we want to finish as strong as we hope to.
As a result, different roles are really beginning to come out and shine through. The designated trimmers become essential, especially in lighter winds. Same thing with the drivers--within our crew we have very good heavy weather helmswomen and very good light wind helmswomen. Like with any team, it is knowing who your best players are and when to play them.
Indeed this is something that is required in every workplace (even workplaces in the middle of the ocean!), and watching the girls reminded me of the work of our sponsor, SCA, and something that UK and ROI managing director Sally Barker said before we set sail on the very first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Sally said that for SCA the race is about building a high-performing team, cooperation and striving towards common goals with a clear strategy - many similarities with SCA's own business. This is our workplace, we are finally performing at our best and we are striving towards our next common goal - Newport.
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