VOR more about vroom for Lewis
LAST April I wrote about a graduate from Honolulu's ASSETS School who was heading out on the adventure of a lifetime.
His name is Andrew Lewis and the 23-year-old had just been selected as the youngest crew member aboard a high-tech sailboat that would be vying with other similar vessels in a race around the world.
The contest is the Volvo Ocean Race -- once known as the Whitbread Around the World Race.
It began in Spain in November and will finish some 27,000 miles and five months later in Sweden.
Along the way, the competitors have or will round the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn and briefly visit ports in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, the U.S., England, and the Netherlands.
Lewis is aboard the second of two boats sponsored by the Netherlands-based international bank ABN AMRO and so far, although ABN AMRO ONE has the more experienced crew, both boats have been the boats to beat in the fleet of seven 70-footers.
In fact, the two boats finished one-two, reflecting their numbers, in the first leg of the race from Galicia, Spain, to Cape Town, South Africa, as well as the second leg from Cape Town to Melbourne, Australia.
But it was during this second leg and first encounter with the wild and woolly winds of the Southern Ocean that the crew aboard ABN AMRO TWO -- Lewis' boat -- managed to outshine their more experienced teammates.
They set a new world speed record for monohull boats by sailing 563 nautical miles in 24 hours.
As the press releases from the team noted afterward, breaking the record was all about breakneck speeds, hurtling down waves and tons of icy water washing across the deck.
"At an average of 23 knots, we only had three people on deck," navigator Simon Fisher said. "One person driving had a fire helmet on because of so much spray, and the other two wore motocross goggles while trimming (the sails) and grinding (the wenches)."
"What a long, fun ride!" Lewis said. "Cold, wet and everything you could imagine happened. (But) huge waves and 25 to 35 knots of wind is what it took (to set the record).
"I was shaking pretty bad at night at the helm, surfing down out of control into a black hole in the water at 33 to 36 knots of boat speed," he admitted. "You just hoped you didn't get blown off the helm."
Lewis apparently had the opposite experience because he later mentioned having a bit of a shoulder problem from getting washed into the steering wheel at some point.
"Good thing my face broke my fall," he joked.
Of course the record ABN AMRO TWO set may not last long as the fleet is now headed back into the rough waters of the "Roaring Forties" and "Screaming Fifties" on its way to Cape Horn.
To see the entire race highlights, check out www.volvooceanrace.org, the official race Web site.