SENSES #4 - Blinded sailors by Jeremie Lecaudey, OBR on Dongfeng

You've heard of the cats seeing by night. Well the sailors have their own bionic vision, they can feel the ocean by night. They could literally close their eyes and just surf the waves, VMG (Velocity Made Good) until we get to Newport. They still check the header and listen to the navigator in case their route isn't optimal.

Going from a very dark place to a very bright place has never been a very good combination, especially after a few hours of sleep as you rush out for your morning pee. You often end up blinded, your eyes crying - the pouched eyes of a your latest dream.

If you’ve seen our videos we explained the importance of red lights at night. You can blind the driver and the crew by lighting a white torch in their eyes, while the red light won’t stick to your retina as much and therefore is allowed on deck to check a few things at times. That said, nothing is more powerful than a white torch, which is why they still use them to check the trim of the sails, up to 30m high, until they find the right set-up, or get yelled at by the driver…

On a normal day at 20 knots, you get a deluge of salty water every 15 to 20 seconds, transforming the entire boat into a massive jacuzzi. The resulting atmosphere is a constant flow of water particles smashing your eyes. Wear your sunnies and pray for the invention of a windshield sunglasses wiper…

There’s a movie about the MacDonald’s story called “The founder.” At some point they show the hero trying to find a solution to the organisation of his restaurant kitchen so that they could do the best burger in the fastest possible way. You would wonder why the sailors wouldn’t do the same exercise on land, practice a gybe and repeat the movements of each manoeuvre until it becomes a 6th sense.

The answer, I guess, is that there is no such thing as a routine manoeuvre in sailing - at least not during the Volvo Ocean Race.