Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 61

ON THE WATER pondered Jules, as tried to keep his opponents at bay. “Never mind, we are still leading even though we are man down,” he said. However, the impending gale was brooding and Jules was still not convinced of the boat’s robustness in winds greater than 35 knots. Nor was his brother. “Nobody is really looking forward to sailing in 40 knots – but it should be fast,” Guys wrote. And fast it was. Record and boat-breakingly fast. On day 19, 29 October, Ericsson 4 broke through the magic 600-mile barrier and, in horrendous conditions in the South Atlantic, the team smashed the world 24-hour monohull record. Elsewhere in the fleet, boats were crashing and burning in the eight-metre waves. Guy Salter reported: “What a day! It’s not every day you get to have a ride as we have had over the past day or so, and to get a new 24-hour record has been superb, but the reality of that feat out here hasn’t really sunk in. We know we have a record but what is more on the fella's minds is getting to Cape Town and hopefully at the front of the pack, avoiding damage to the yacht and ourselves. “All the boys look really drained - sleep is not the easiest on Ericsson 4, I can only describe the motion as I would imagine re-entry on the Space shuttle is like. Everything is bouncing - including every cell in our bodies and the mundane tasks are near impossible. “On deck the boat is surrounded in a ball of spray. I wonder how we don’t show signs of secondary drowning. The waves arrive very frequently and hard. Everyone is clipped on but you still need to brace and hold on tight. There is tons of water passing over the deck every minute, sometimes knee-deep as it pours over and back from where it came. Your eyes sting and become red from the salt water, or you wear a helmet or visor, these help, but don’t cure. “Down below is harder, so you’re best off in the bunk, for your own safety and some well-earned rest. The boat is screaming from the speed - and loud. I am sure that there would be something in the laws of combat about this sound torture - earplugs are essential, but your ears still ring. “Cooking is nearly impossible but important, it would make a great test in the 'Generation Game' TV show. You have The Island's new funky radio station www.wightfm.com life to traverse around the boat using as many points of contact as possible - the saying 'one hand for you, one hand for the boat' goes out of the window, as you need at least two hands for yourself. I find myself walking around in full primate fashion, with my arms swinging above my head in Gibbon style - I guess this is why being from the Isle of Wight has its advantages - after all, we only came down from the trees in 1976! “The thought of our loved ones, some good food and maybe a beer pushes us closer to the finish line.” The Salter’s boat, Ericsson 4, was first to cross the finish line in Cape Town and not only did they win the leg, they are leading the Volvo Ocean Race overall. But only by one point. Their nearest rival, PUMA, is breathing down their necks, and there are still nine legs to go in this ocean marathon before the overall winner is crowned in St Petersburg, Russia in June next year. We will be following the fortunes of the Salter brothers throughout this epic event, but if you are hooked, check out the event website at www.volvooceanrace.org , where you can get fully into the action. 61