Ocean Master: Fleet up against ice box border
Published on June 5th, 2014
(June 5, 2014; 23:45 UTC) – Like a faithful dog, the depression that 24 hours ago the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race competitors used to ‘slingshot’ themselves out into the Atlantic, continues to serve its Masters.
Since the beginning of the race on Sunday, this depression remained unnaturally static, as if anchored mid-way between Bermuda and Nova Scotia. But since the boats passed it, the depression has moved north and has benefitted the competitors once again, causing the wind to free up. From being southeasterly, as they exited the low yesterday, the wind has now veered closer to due south putting the competitors on to a faster point of sail.
In the 20-25 knot winds, the boats are continuing to average more than 18 knots and are eating up the miles, with Hugo Boss having covered a respectable 446 miles in the last 24 hours. The wind shift has also slightly benefited the boats behind.
But the focus is currently on ‘the ice box’. This is a feature of the race course designed to prevent the competing yachts colliding with icebergs, for to their north there are plenty that have drifted down from the Arctic as far south as 41degN. Hence the race committee has erred on the side of prudence, setting a southerly limit to their ‘ice box’ along the line of latitude 40degN between 51 and 47deg W.
Competitors are obliged to stay south of this virtual line, and in the blast reaching conditions, the southerly winds dragged the fleet up and against the line. Leader Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière on Safran were nearly at the eastern corner as of 23:45 UTC. Once past the corner, they will have the option to get further north if desired.
At present conditions for tomorrow are forecast to be tricky and slow with a ridge (an elongated area of high pressure) orientated initially along a north-south axis forming ahead of them, bringing with it light winds. Given that Safran will be first into this on Friday morning, the French crew is going to be able to do little to prevent their lead evaporating as the boats behind, cruise in with pressure.
Background: The 3720 mile IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race is a new doublehanded race for the Open 60 class. Five teams started from New York on June 1, with the expected finish into Barcelona, Spain at around June 12-15.