Photos: 20 days at sea on a race boat

No toilet, no refrigerator, no problem – adventure photog Jen Edney on a no-frills Pacific crossing.
By Josh Sampiero

When photographer Jen Edney applied for an on-board reporter position with the Volvo Ocean Race, she figured she'd better get some experience doing off-shore sailing. Her chance came with the delivery of one of the 70-foot Volvo Ocean Race boats from Honolulu, to the Philippines.

It meant living for twenty days aboard a lightweight, bare-bones boat built for racing instead of comfort – as the only female amongst a crew of seven men, hailing from six different countries. Not exactly where you'd expect to find a girl who grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and who used to be afraid of the ocean!

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Flying on the foredeck
Flying on the foredeck With plenty of wind to power the $8,000,000 boat forward, the smaller 'blade' jib is flying, rather than the bigger genoa, which is pictured furled (rolled up) in the foreground. © Jen Edney/
Team work
Team work A Volvo Ocean Race boat isn't your average lake-side dinghy – nearly every maneuver on the boat – tacking, jibing, or raising the sails requires a rehearsed, choreographed effort from the crew. © Jen Edney/
Squaring away the sheets
Squaring away the sheets On a sailboat, ropes are called sheets, and are used to raise, lower, and trim the sails. Keeping them neatly out of the way is a full-time job. © Jen Edney/
Seeing through the squall
Seeing through the squall "There was one minor squall. We were behind a super typhoon that hit the Philippines a few days before we got there, and there was one coming up behind us, but not threatening us. It looks ugly in this picture, but the wind really rarely broke 20 knots." © Jen Edney/
Fresh fish
Fresh fish "Unfortunately we only caught a few fish – and with no refrigeration on the boat, we had to use it all right away. So we made sashimi. That's as fresh as it gets." © Jen Edney/
Man overboard
Man overboard A much-deserved celebratory dip in the drink upon arrival in the Philippines. © Jen Edney/
Shade of sails
Shade of sails "The sun forced us to be creative in finding ways to beat the heat - from awnings made of sails like you see here. One time, the guys built a pool in a sail. There's a lot of downtime, punctuated by brief periods of excitement. Energy needs to go somewhere! " © Jen Edney/
Liquid refreshment
Liquid refreshment "There's no way to bring aboard enough water for eight people for twenty days. Our desalinisation machine provided water. I would add some electrolytes to the water to help with hydration and vitamins." © Jen Edney/
Grinding it out
Grinding it out Raising and trimming the massive, powerful sails requires more strength than a human can produce – two crew members 'grind' the winch, mid-transition. Says Jen: "I was the eighth man, so I had watch 4 hours on, 4 hours off. During sail changes I'd grind the winch, and I'd drive when it was safe." © Jen Edney/
Speedy sailing
Speedy sailing "This 70-foot Volvo Ocean Race boat is stripped down and built for speed, not comfort. Our typical boat speed would average between 12 - 20 knots, but the boat was capable of 40 knots." © Jen Edney/
A wet ride
A wet ride While much of the trip was made in moderate to calm seas, rougher seas would send water crashing over the gunwales. And there's no relief when the sun goes down. "There's no breaks," says Jen. "You're sailing all night." © Jen Edney/
The carbon fibre sauna
The carbon fibre sauna "The boat is carbon fiber, so it's really loud – and hot. We lived in underwear. I got used to it. When I got on the boat, I told them, 'Treat me like one of the guys'. They did. When they would toss waste (yes, human waste) over the boat, they'd yell bombs away." © Jen Edney/
Banana boat
Banana boat "When we first arrived in the channel near the Philippines, the guys wanted to check out a beach, mostly to find beers and cigarettes. But the real bonus? Someone came out and offered fruit from her backyard. It was really appreciated!" © Jen Edney/
Finished in the Philippines
Finished in the Philippines A journey of over 4,000 nautical miles finished in Subic Bay, near Manila, in the Philippines. "Yeah, it felt good to get off the boat!" says Jen. © Jen Edney/
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