Tip-toeing through the South Atlantic
Published on October 29th, 2014
(October 29, 2014; Day 19) – In a surprise plot twist, the weather routing models for the Volvo Ocean Race teams are now showing the low in the southern latitudes that all the teams have been betting so much on, is disappearing too far south to connect with.
For days, it’s been tempting them south with the promise of a fast ride. But now with its position, along with the recently added restriction of an ice exclusion zone at 42º south, has made this option a little harder to achieve.
So the teams today – broad reaching with wind in the low teens – have been bending their course to the east, closer to Cape Town… but also closer to the St. Helena High.
“We’ve not seen a fight like this in the Volvo Ocean Race for a long time,” observed Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier. “That’s the great thing about one-design.”
Brunel tried to tip toe close around the high pressure system, but stumbled in low winds, and had to wait until 1330 UTC, when the wind moved to the northwest from northeast, before it could gybe south.
“We were six knots faster than Brunel during that sched,” noted Vestas navigator Wouter Verbraak. “We’ve had a snake before; now we need more ladders like that in the next few days.”
The current position report, unlike the past few days, does reflect reality, with the top three teams nearly on top of each other, and all the teams but SCA on starboard gybe. The girls are hoping to catch a break soon but the weather gods have not been too kind.
“We got caught under our own personal rain cloud that sucked every ounce of wind,” shared onboard reporter Corinna Halloran. “Our ‘parade’ was both literally and figuratively rained on, losing 49 miles to Mapre. Unsure if ‘gutted’ gives the best description of the mood of all of us on board – but it felt like we had all been stabbed in the stomach.”
Leg 1 Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 2352.9 nm Distance to Finish
2. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), 0.8 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 2.7 nm DTL
4. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 9.2 nm DTL
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 44.8 nm DTL
6. Mapfre, Iker Martinez (ESP), 154.8 nm DTL
7. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 219.1 DTL
Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began Leg 1 on October 11, which takes the seven teams 6478 nm from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. ETA is Nov. 2-6. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, 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. Final finish on June 27, 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden.