Well, it’s a nine-month race. It visits five continents, crosses four oceans, and stops in 11 ports. Sailors see a lot of squalls, storms… and, yes, calm weather too.
“At one point in the night, Ian said he woke up and thought we were stopped,” joked Matt Knighton this morning, when blogging from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
“He’d had his headphones on and the boat was perfectly level and not swaying side to side. He was shocked when he looked at the computer and saw we were still doing 11 knots!
“A level sea state outside making the subtlest of noise down below against the hull has been fooling everyone.”
While his team sails in third position behind Dongfeng and Team Brunel, some 250 nautical miles off the Kerala coast, Matt speaks of “nirvana” and “five-star luxury sailing conditions”.
But don’t let that straight tack to Sri Lanka fool you – it’s not easy out there.
“I’ve never seen a wind so shifty,” said Charles Caudrelier in yesterday’s Inside Track
Dongfeng’s skipper sighed heavily before to add, “We have so many choices to do.”
50nm behind the Chinese boat, Libby Greenhalgh navigates Team SCA. And just like Charles, she knows it’s not as simple as it seems.
“When you first look at it, this leg has a fair amount of straight line sailing,” she says, sitting at the nav station, inside the magenta hull.
“But there is a certain amount of positioning to be done, from one side of the fleet to the other but also whether you want to be south or north.
“It’s actually been pretty tricky, going from pretty light winds to decent breeze. It’s hard work to keep the boat going, the girls are doing a very good job.”
You could say it’s a reasonably comfortable challenge. And they better enjoy it while it lasts. Once the teams leave India and Sri Lanka on port*, they will enter the Bay of Bengal, and start sailing upwind in a whole new stretch of water.