April 13, 2009 @ 19:15:31   Foto Dave Kneale / Rick Tomlinson-Volvo Ocean Race / Rick Deppe-PUMA

Bowman Casey Smith (AUS), onboard PUMA Ocean Racing

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Puma - Ken Read (Skipper)

The challenges of ocean sailing change every day. Nearly always an interesting new twist comes to play. The first couple of days of this journey were no different.

First of all, we are going home, back to Boston where Selma Hyack christened "il mostro" on a cold and blustery May night. Back to where the North American Headquarters for PUMA lies, right on the harbor front. Back to where I went to University. Boston University (who just won the National Championship in ice hockey I might add). A city which has helped mold my life, and I especially can't wait to get back there.

But the journey doesn't happen without its potholes, and I thought we were going to lose Sid for a while yesterday morning. Sidney Gavignet is a very passionate Frenchman who has a love for the sea and a love for competition. But like most of us he has a few superstitions and there is one in particular that is shared by nearly all of his French sailing counterparts.

They have a huge fear of little fuzzy hopping animals with long ears (I am not even allowed to say the name of this animal-that is how deep rooted the superstition is.)

As legend has it, the furry animals with long ears used to be taken aboard the old sailing ships alive and eaten in the old days, long before refrigeration or freeze-dried food. Live animals were carried then eaten by the crew. The furry little animals with long ears supposedly had a different plan though. They would eat through the wooden hulls and sink the ships before they made it to the cooker, or made it to port. Since then the French have forbidden any sort of mention or likeness of the big-eared ship sinkers to be on any boat.

So, with the best of intentions an unnamed fan made it on board and put a chocolate Easter fuzzy animal with long ears in each of our storage pouches as a surprise. Again with the best of intentions. Sid didn't see the humor. We believe he threw his overboard and asked if I would make sure that all were either eaten or immediately gotten rid of as soon as possible.

And sure enough we had a really bad day yesterday on the water. From winning the leg out of Rio, we saw the three boats that were the farthest behind sail around us all, Telefonica Blue and Green Dragon along the shore and Delta Lloyd offshore. The pack of Telefonica Black, the two Ericssson's and us stuck in the windless middle trying desperately to get to an edge.

Now we are in a drag race to Fernando and the all-important scoring gate. We are minus all fuzzy and long eared chocolate Easter treats and we appear to be doing better because of it. We aren't talking about that superstition any more. After this note of course.

Because yesterday it was pretty valid in my books. We checked for holes and are good on that front. Now to make up for lost time and distance.


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