Volvo Ocean Race: Serious trickiness ahead

Published on November 25th, 2014

(November 25, 2014; Day 7) – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet currently finds itself south east of Madagascar, sailing closehauled on port into a Houdini northerly. Houdini? Now you see it, soon you won’t.

“The weather is complex, with a new high pressure system soon to roll east from South Africa, out into the India Ocean,” explains Mark Chisnell, who is providing analysis for B&G instruments. “In about three days time, it will join with the South Indian Ocean High, but in the meantime it’s going to create some serious trickiness.”

Skipper Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi team has consistently benefited from their conservative positioning to remain at the top of the standings, so it was of some surprise to see them 50 nm to windward of leader MAPRE. Walker, as it turns out, was surprised too.

“If the split we’ve created pays out, one might argue it was intentional… but it wasn’t,” explains reporter Matt Knighton on Abu Dhabi. “We were really trying to stay in touch with the fleet when we found out later they’d sailed further east.”

Walker is philosophical about the situation.

“On the one hand it’s nice to have other boats around because you can pace yourself and learn more. On the other, it’s nice being alone and not make decisions because of what the other boats around you are doing.”

Always analysing the situation and talking things through he continues, “To be fair, we’ve done alright on this side, we’ve just had two slow patches which they didn’t have. Otherwise we’d be 50 miles up the track. If you play the whole thing through on the router we basically all come out the same.”

Walker may have faith in his tools, but that doesn’t mean the conditions are easy to read.

“For all of you newborn parents out there complaining about the baby waking you up every few hours, you should give high-pressure passages a try,” noted reporter Amory Ross on Alvimedica. “Rain squall after rain squall, sail change after sail change, stack adjustment after stack adjustment. Just when you start to get comfortable the call comes through the hatch to change something else.”

Like Chisnell described, there is some serious trickiness ahead.

Race websiteTrackingWatch logVideos

Review and Prediction: Mark Chisnell reviews the first week of action in Leg 2 as the teams leave Cape Town for Abu Dhabi, and then uses Deckman, B&G’s predictive routing software, to make sense of what will happen next. CLICK HERE

Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series. The second offshore leg from Cape Town, SA to Abu Dhabi, UAE is 6,125 nm, started Nov. 19 with an ETA of Dec. 9-16.

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