Volvo Ocean Race: Full on for the start
Published on December 9th, 2017
Cape Town, South Africa (December 9, 2017) – Strong winds are forecast for the start of Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race tomorrow afternoon in Cape Town as the famous ‘Cape Doctor’ – a strong southeasterly wind – pays a visit over the weekend.
The doctor made a house call this morning, bringing a steady 40 knots of wind, and at least one gust of over 60 knots was recorded. This is expected to moderate somewhat for the race start, but winds are forecast to remain in the 25 to 35 knot range, with some gusts significantly stronger.
“It’s going to be full-on for the start,” says Vestas 11th Hour Racing navigator Simon Fisher. “Very strong southeasterlies and then when we get offshore it will be a decent sea-state we’re banging into as well. It will soften a bit but then we’re quickly into the westerlies and it’s the proper Southern Ocean. It’s going to be an intense leg in general.”
“It could be very windy for the first week and very high speed,” agreed Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Dongfeng Race Team. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic leg.”
Leg 3, from Cape Town to Melbourne, Australia is a nominal 6,500 nautical miles. The routing takes the teams down into the ‘Roaring Forties’, the area south of 40-degrees latitude where storm systems circle Antarctica, unimpeded by any land mass. Towering waves, steady gale and storm force winds, and ice-cold temperatures are a daily feature here.
“We should remember it’s late spring, just the beginning of summer and the winter has just passed in the Southern Hemisphere so the water is still bloody cold,” said race veteran Bouwe Bekking, the skipper of Team Brunel. “I think the most frightening thing is that the depressions are still so strong… the amount of pressure that is in the air is just humongous.
“And of course, the water temperatures – hopefully with the ice limits we don’t encounter any ice — but if the water is just a few degrees above freezing and you get a southerly breeze, you might be having icicles off the mast some times. We’ve experienced it in the past… When we did this leg in the old days, this was the leg when the most damage appeared. The boats today are stronger than before, but still things can break.”
Deciding when to push for speed and when to throttle back to protect crew and equipment is a delicate balance. The stakes are even higher as this is the first double-point leg. The winner of Leg 3 will collect 15 points (7 x 2 = 14 plus a 1 point win bonus).
“I think we have a lot of experience on our boat and we have to trust that experience in the Southern Ocean,” explained Charlie Enright, skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing talking about finding the balance of how hard to push. “It not just about the points, it’s the fact we don’t haul-out in Melbourne, it’s the heavy conditions in the Southern Ocean, because you don’t want to break anything…To finish first, you must first finish.”
For Xabi Fernández, the skipper of MAPFRE, the race leader, the stopover in Cape Town provided a much needed opportunity to recharge.
“After the first long leg (Lisbon to Cape Town), it’s always important to be in the front,” he said. “We’re happy as a team. We had a good stopover. The boat is in great shape and the team is as well, so we’re ready to go.”
The start of Leg 3 is scheduled for 2pm in Cape Town, 12:00 UTC.
To see Leg 3 crew lists… click here.
Overall Results (after 2 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 14 points
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 13
3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 11
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 7
5. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 6
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 5
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 2
The third leg starts December 10 for the 6500 nm course to Melbourne, Australia. Leg 3 is expected to take 12 to 16 days to complete.
2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
• Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
• Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
• MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
• Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
• Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
• Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
• Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)
Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.
Source: Volvo Ocean Race