Published: Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The close competition so far in Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean race is leaving the sailors exhausted as they fight for position among the fleet. From all reports, it’s clear the intensity of the close racing is taking its toll.

Dongfeng Race Team Battles It Out In Leg 1

The Mediterranean Sea is in the distance. Ahead, the Atlantic is everywhere.

Three members of Dongfeng Race Team are suffering with colds and it’s hard to find down time.

Dongfeng Race Team Battles It Out In Leg 1 1

The wind has picked up and the boats are sailing close-hauled, averaging about 30 knots. Even changing sails, in this case between a J1 and J2, is a huge effort because it means that the whole team must be on deck.

Dongfeng Race Team Battles It Out In Leg 1 2

The effort paid off though as Dongfeng Race Team was the fastest coming out of the tack and sending up the sail.

But on board, things are getting uncomfortable. Sailing close to the wind, the boat rattles, bangs and shudders. Down below, water is starting to creep in, brought in by the soaking wet gear of the sailors. The humidity is spreading everywhere in the boat. Finding the right balance, and keeping it despite the impact of the hull smashing relentlessly against the waves is a constant battle.

Dongfeng Race Team Battles It Out In Leg 1 3

But with 19 days left, and with Alicante left far behind, Dongfeng Race Team must dig deep to keep strength up and spirits high.

“We can’t mess this one up,” says team member Pascal Bidégorry.

(Photos: Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)