Volvo Ocean Race: Preview for Leg 1

Published on October 9th, 2014

When the first leg of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race gets underway October 11, the seven teams will be sorting through the challenges and the opportunities which extends along the 6,487 nm from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. Working with B&G, an official race supplier, Mark Chisnell shares some of the hurdles the seven navigators will face…

High Pressure Hot House
We’re into the autumn equinox and a time of unsettled weather, but it looks like the first few days will be dominated by high pressure over Spain. So that means the Med will keep its reputation as light and tricky, with potential for someone to get stuck and take a big loss. Or get it right and make a big gain. The route follows the coast, so understanding land effects will be crucial.

Dire Straits
If there’s not much wind, then getting through the Straits of Gibraltar will be tough, as there’s plenty of current running. The channel is only about eight nautical miles wide, so the fleet will still be forced to contend with local land effects, perhaps picking a shore that could see a split and more opportunities for finding a snake or a ladder.

Horsing Around

Once the fleet get out into the North Atlantic, the next big hurdle should be the Azores High – a large high-pressure area named after the island chain. It determines the position of the trade winds, the moderate to strong north-easterly breeze that usually runs from Portugal down the west coast of Africa. If the weather gods are favouring the fleet, they will roll straight out of the Med to find the trade winds blowing strong and hard, and step onto the conveyor belt that will take them to the Doldrums. If not they will find themselves struggling in what used to be called the Horse Latitudes – more light air.

What’s lies beyond? The Doldrums, the Azores High, and the Southern Ocean. Click here for full report.

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