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Chowing Down on the High Seas

When every ounce is a drag on speed, how to provision for 5,500 calories per sailor per day?

Justin Slattery tucking into lunch onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam. <<photo © Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race>>

In the nine brutal legs covering the 38,739 nautical miles of the Volvo Ocean Race, every ounce matters with the evenly matched, one-design boats. Sailors have been known to shave down their toothbrushes, and drinking cups often double as dishes.
    So what would the grocery list on a Volvo-65 look like on one of the longer legs, say from China to New Zealand?
    Here in his own words is the food order that Stefan Coppers for Team Brunel sent to the shore crew for the 4,500-mile fourth leg to Auckland.

• 890 bars of which 445 protein bars (for power), 220 grain and 225 tasty chocolate: Kit-Kat or Twix
• 22 bags of beef jerky
• 22 rolls of Isostar tablets. The only thing we drink is water. With Isostar we kill two birds with one stone. It tastes better than the fluid of the desalinated water maker and it gives an energy boost.
• 18 butane gas bottles (I have too little onboard now). The men have not had coffee for two days. Would this be the reason why we perform so badly? ;-)
• 330 bags of Crusli (Adventure Food)
• 330 servings of freeze-dried spaghetti bolognese (each on board gets 1.5 servings per meal = 900 calories). Otherwise, they will never get to 5,500 calories per day.
• 165 servings of mashed potatoes (freeze-dried)
• 165 servings of chicken curry (freeze-dried)
• 6 bottles of chili sauce (sauce is the only way to make the meals a little edible)
• 6 bottles of tomato ketchup
• 5 kilos of sliced and vacuum-packed Serrano ham
• 5 kilos of coffee
• Sugar blocks (200 pieces total)
• Coffee milk (2 kilo)
• 11 kilo protein shakes (for muscle recovery)
• Salt and pepper. Definitely no glass (dangerous) and no mill (will become clammy)
• Olive oil (Many men become clogged on the sea. This helps a lot.)
• New suggestion of Rokas: teriyaki and soy sauce?
• Tabasco (small bottle)
• Toilet rolls, 22
• Wet wipes, 11 packets
• 11 dirt bags: strong, preferably for garden waste or something
• Shaving cream, 1 bottle
• Razor blades
• 9 toothbrushes
• 1 x toothpaste (more than enough: some boys are brushing their teeth once every five days, rancid!)
• 1 x wash brush
• 3 x lighters
• Oh yeah, and last but not least, the highlight of the day: 44 bags Haribo candies.
    On longer legs, the crews get to the breaking point and cannot eat enough food to offset the weight they are losing through relentless exertion.
    Medical experts from around the world have been studying the effects this physical and mental abuse has on the human body. So in addition to being world-class ocean sailors, the Volvo crews are heroic lab rats. What is learned by closely monitoring each sailor’s health during this year-long ordeal may one day reap beneficial results for the entire human race.

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    On Leg 7 across the Atlantic Ocean, a relatively short, 2,800-mile sprint in relation to the previous legs, the pre-race favorite Team Brunel, skippered by Bouwe Beking, took the early lead. Brunel never relinquished control, even though the Spanish boat Mapfre sailed within sight of the Dutch boat for the final week, while the American entry Alvimedica finished a close third.
    Next stop, Lisbon, Portugal.