Sailors steel nerves for Atlantic endgame

Craig Satterthwaite and Jules Salter stand tall in the lead.  - Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Nerves of steel are a requirement for a Volvo Ocean Race sailor especially when crossing the Atlantic, CAMPER helmsman Rob Salthouse said as his team gained miles on Leg 7 leaders Abu Dhabi.

Salthouse, competing in his third Volvo, said the current transatlantic crossing was definitely taking a toll on the sailors, with unpredictable weather resulting in plenty of unnerving times.

Craig Satterthwaite and Jules Salter stand tall in the lead. - Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

On the upside, Salthouse said it was mild in comparison to previous crossings.

“Normally at this time of the race we’d be at the bottom edge of the ice-gate, with the Labrador Current,” he said.

“The way the weather has panned out we’re quite a way from that. Lucky for us we’re in only one pair of thermals at night, and in the day it’s been mild. It’s nice sailing, but if you ask anyone on board, we’d like to be getting to Lisbon quicker.”

As the team’s average speed increased and they made ground on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, gaining seven miles on the leaders in the three hours to 1900, Salthouse said the crew remained optimistic.

Boosting Salthouse’s confidence is a ridge lying about 300 nautical miles off the coast of Lisbon, Portugal.

“There’s always going to be opportunities,” he said. “When we get across to the Portuguese coast there is a ridge we have to cross there, so there will be massive compression there.

“Often it will be first in first out, but you can’t always say that, especially in that part of the world.

“It will be tense times for everyone. It’s very up and down, everyone in the fleet has had trouble reading the weather from the start.”

While the thought of the upcoming ridge is looming large over the Abu Dhabi crew, helmsman/trimmer Simon Fisher there was plenty more to concentrate on before then.

“It should be good fun and some fast easy miles before we close in on the Portuguese coast to the road block,’’ he said.

“We’ll have to work hard to get through that with everyone chasing from behind with good breeze. We just have to stick to business as usual and sail our own race.”

At 1900 UTC Abu Dhabi held 65 nm lead over CAMPER, followed by PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG 81 nm behind, Groupama sailing team, 95 nm, Team Telefónica, 98 nm and Team Sanya, 122 nm.

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