Extreme sailing in the Southern Ocean

Published on December 14th, 2017

(December 14, 2017; Leg 3, Day 5) – The Volvo Ocean Race teams were feeling the full strength of the Southern Ocean today as they were pummelled by winds gusting as high as 50 knots and surfing down mountainous waves.

The deep low-pressure system that has been forming for the past few days has now engulfed the seven crews, forcing them to switch from all-out racing to a more conservative mode.

Nevertheless, boat speeds rocketed to an incredible 38 knots as the Volvo Ocean 65s were launched down the faces of enormous Southern Ocean rollers.

“Max wind puff was 62 knots… good we had the gennaker furled just before that,” noted Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking. “Now riding literally the storm out.”

The low pressure system responsible for the hammering is vast, stretching almost 1,500 nautical miles from the tip of South Africa to just a few hundred miles north of Antarctica.

It represents the biggest challenge so far in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, and, although Leg 3 from Cape Town to Melbourne is still in its early stages, the decisions the teams make now could have serious consequences on the results.

The notable casualty is team Akzonobel which has been forced to hit the brakes after suffering damage to the mainsail track while gybing in 35 knots. The mainsail has been lowered and the team is continuing to race with forward sails only. A repair is planned for tomorrow.

“If all that all goes to plan we could be up sailing again at a 100 per cent,” said Chris Nicholson. “But it’s going to take time, and we’ve got to be careful.”

Turn the Tide on Plastic, Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, and Team Brunel have taken a more northerly track to avoid the worst of the weather, the lead two boats are deepest south with Vestas positioned mid fleet.

 

To see Leg 3 crew lists… click here.

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Leg 3 – Position Report (19:00 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 4101.3 nm DTF
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 5.5 nm DTL
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 72.5 nm DTL
4. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 154.4 nm DTL
5. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 173.6 nm DTL
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 196.9 nm DTL
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 223.1 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Leader

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 started December 10 for the course from Cape Town, South Africa to Melbourne, Australia. The ETA is between the December 24 and 26.

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

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