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13 February 2002, 03:49 pm
For Mothers Everywhere
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Volvo Ocean Race

For each of those sailing on the Volvo Ocean Race a day in the office is full of tasks that could all be included under a heading of monotonous daily chores.

These chores, however, do not include putting the rubbish out for the bin men, collecting the daily newspaper and reading the mail, but are more tacking, stacking and moving gear to the windward side, hoisting and dropping sails and just generally keeping the 'engine' [sails] of the boat moving as efficiently as possible. The tasks are varied, with each crew selected to work in an area where their specialist talents are needed.

There can be the unexpected moments when events need to be dealt with in a hurry and even the off watch teams are required on deck for sail handling, which can intrude on 'private' time below decks. Of course there are also the hours and hours of planning for the next stage of the overall strategy with weather, current and computer analysis. In between, time needs to be set aside for eating and sleeping and there is very little time for thoughts to dwell on loved ones and friends at home.

Lisa McDonald's mother has been watching two boats' progress; her daughter, as skipper on Amer Sports Too and her son in law, Neal McDonald, the skipper on ASSA ABLOY. She wrote down her thoughts of the pride and elation, mixed with the apprehension of having two of her family on the Volvo Ocean Race, "This time around, I have not one, but two to watch and be anxious for - my son-in-law being the second. Both have the awesome responsibility of the well being of the boat, the crew and the challenge of doing well. There are not words to express the pride I feel in their accomplishments, endurance and in the strength to make their dreams come true." No doubt she followed Neal's swim yesterday very closely.

For the family at home though, the limited contact they have with their loved ones on the race, is mainly through a computer. This can be via email direct to the boat or constant logging onto the Volvo Ocean Race website ( to see the latest position report, hear the latest comments from the boat about life onboard and to live every moment with them in anticipation of the boat's next manoeuvre, experiencing the same hopes for the gains that the crew are agonising over at the same time.

Then there are the dangers, which are much easier to experience first hand; the sailors know exactly what is going on, those ashore can only imagine. Family and friends can read about it, watch it on television or hear it on the radio and then will inevitably worry about their nearest and dearest. Occasionally, they can speak to the boat via satellite telephone but the worries are still there for every gale forecast or every report of more icebergs and inhospitable conditions. Lisa's mother continued, "For me, the hardest part of this race is that my child is in it and I am strapped to the computer following her journey. There is of course excitement - the spectacular extreme sailing, the competitiveness, watching each leg as it unfolds... and there are times of apprehension... Thank God for technology and virtual imaging! It's both a blessing and a curse - it provides a connectiveness to what's going on, but with every visit to the web, the actuality makes the dangers and hardships of this race more undeniable."

She tunes into the website several times a day for the latest updates and finished her message with a personal touch to the two sailors themselves, "To Lisa, to Neal and especially to all of the girls on Amer Sports Too -- I am proud -- as I know your families are -- of your determination and perseverance. Let it inspire others to reach the potential God gave them!" For the sailors, their precious private thought time does sometimes drift towards home and family. Often when they are writing crew emails for the website or at times in their bunks when they are off watch. djuice toasted friends and family at Cape Horn with a 5cl bottle of cognac, a capful each. For Stig Westergaard on djuice the Volvo Ocean Race had given him a special personal milestone with his father, "The Horn also represents some childhood dreams as my father always stated that one could only put one foot per Cape on the couch table after rounding one. So now that I have made them both, the Hope and the Horn I can rest my feet on the table with peace of mind."

On Amer Sports One, Paul Cayard's thought drifted to his wife when he was struggling to get some sleep, "Guess I finally got so tired I could sleep in these bunks. They are the worst I have ever seen. I sleep overlapped with [Grant] Dalton or Bouwe Bekking, feet to feet, in a fixed angle bunk with water dripping down the sidewalls of the tanks. The conditions are a bit different from my bed in Kentfield and even then I can't sleep if I am touching my wife. At this point, I am looking forward to having that problem."

Gurra Krantz wrote of a conversation he had earlier this leg with his six year old daughter via the satphone, "I mean, what do you do? At least she could have pretended she cared more about me than the race and the boat..." when she demanded to know why SEB had lost places to the fleet. Ross Field added in a ps to a crew email that he hoped term time was going to start well for his eldest granddaughter aged 7, "ps: I hope Ella had a good first week back at school". Ella is one of three grandchildren to occupy Ross' mind, with Jamie 4 and Rose, 18 months. For Nicholas White on News Corp, he was dreaming of a proper bed again, "A warm bed is only one of the things I will be looking forward to in Rio."

Kevin Shoebridge's thoughts on Tyco were more looking ahead to the finish in Rio, "Our boat is in remarkably good condition, considering what it's been put through. I would imagine the others are also; the level of preparation has stepped up along with the intenseness of the racing. Some sail damage but not a lot else, needless to say there will be an extensive check over going on in Rio before the next leg."
Volvo Ocean Race Press/News Editor
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