How To Put On Foul Weather Gear

People sometimes think that sailing is a sport centered upon warm sunny days and graceful lines across open water. Competitive sailing is a bit different. If it rains, you sail through the storm. If you need to tack in the middle of the night, you get up, grab a handle and start grinding. And if the salt water is 34 degrees and the swells are higher than your boat – well, you deal with it.

Foul weather gear is what sailors use to stay (mostly) dry during harsh conditions on the water. At the Volvo Ocean Race’s stopover in Miami this spring, our friends at Camper gave us a chance to try on some of the team’s gear. As usual, it didn’t go as planned.

The Volvo Ocean Race Sails Through Miami

It’s raining in Miami, and we’re sitting inside of the Camper pavilion waiting for the weather to clear, Josh with his forehead on the table while I make idle conversation with the woman across from us.

“It’s embarrassing,” she says, gesturing to the low turnout for the day of in-port racing, though considering the weather, I imagine there were several factors in play. Still, there’s no doubt that the race village here in Miami feels different from the one in Alicante. In Spain, where the race started in November, you could power a blender on the electricity buzzing through the atmosphere.

Here, the crowds and the teams seem more reserved, with visitors scampering to find cover among pavilions or in the tents set up by the various sponsors. When we head in to the media tent to pick up badges, a familiar face greets us from Spain, an old friend who puts down her mobile phone to catch up on gossip. She smiles. We’re the only ones checking in.

Midway through this marathon of a race, the atmosphere here is heavy with fatigue and determination. Over 30,000 nautical miles have been sailed around the world to this point so far, and teams still have to cross the Atlantic Ocean before they reach home. As soon as the boats pull back into port in Miami on Saturday, the shore crew is hard at work turning over the boat for the next day of sailing. Bunks are being hosed down, masts are being rigged, sails reconfigured. Frankly, there’s little space for celebration and the crowd seems to respect that.

Still, it’s easy to see the hope and determination still coursing strongly through many of the sailors. We meet up with our old friend Nick Dana, the Media Crew Member (MCM) on Team Abu Dhabi’s Azzam who’s bearded, tanned and about six years older than he was in Spain last November. There’s nothing but hunger for the race in his voice, however, and as he wanders through the ship with us, he tells us of his excitement for the next leg, excitement to be in his home country and excitement to kick this next leg in the teeth.

We leave the ocean racers in the late afternoon heat and drizzling rain of Miami, quietly rigging the boat and preparing for the next leg. Josh and I will be tucked safely away at the downtown Marriott tonight, while tomorrow the crew will be filed away into their carbon fiber bunks as the ships sail eastward. Divergent now, our paths will cross again soon.

Follow the Volvo Ocean Race as the teams sail into Lisbon Lorient and Galway.

Leg 1, day…not sure.

I’m not sure because I’m not counting down the days until I can chew proper food again. I’m not sure because changing my clothes and catching a whiff of myself doesn’t elicit a gag reflex. I’m not sure because I’m not stuck in a carining carbon tube where even sleeping is a challenge. I’m not sure because my skin doesn’t feel like biltong, nor does it require a full body wipe down in baby wipes once a week. I’m not sure because my hair cut doesn’t look like I jumped into a ceiling fan (equator crossing haircuts) And I’m not sure because I’m busting for the loo three times a day!

In fact, leg 1 so far has been quite easy on my body. As I write this, I’m kicked up in an apartment over looking the Dubai skyline. Tomorrow, I will hop on a plane to head to Cape Town where I will get a few days surfing in before our ship Azzam shows up on a cargo vessel and we are back to work. It was terrible misfortune that allowed us to miss doing the first leg of the Volvo as well as a real bummer for those of us who have not done this leg before. I, along with the rest of the boys, was pretty gutted when the mast came down just hours after the start. We pretty much knew that the leg was over for us at that point, but there is a long race ahead yet.

The team remains positive. The guys are probably more hungry now for a win then ever before. And we know our boat is a weapon. The giants of the race are gaining strength in the first leg to Cape Town. But no doubt we will be dubbed ‘giant killers’ on our arrival into Abu Dhabi.

Follow Gadling Blogger Nick Dana as he sails around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race with Team Abu Dhabi here.

Volvo Ocean Race begins with a bang

A few weeks back, Gadling Labs took a wander around Team Abu Dhabi’s VO70 ocean racer and one thing was apparent: weight is key. Non essential components are stripped from the ship, appointments are minimal and everything that can be made out of lightweight composite is incorporated — even the steering wheel.

Four hours into the race, the team learned a drawback to composite materials: when they fail, it’s usually catastrophic. Luckily, nobody on the boat was injured and there was a backup mast in Valencia. After a few days in port, the team briefly set out for Cape Town, but decided to withdraw in order to prepare for the next leg.

In the meantime, the four remaining teams are still headed towards the Cape of Good Hope. You can follow the race around the world for the next nine months at