Volvo Ocean Race: Sailing fast is a relative term
Published on December 4th, 2014
Team Alvimedica’s navigation support Anderson Reggio shares insights on the current racing conditions…
The focus for Team Alvimedica returns to racing and getting back the miles lost (in the support of Team Vestas Wind), sailing fast, and getting back into the mix. For the foreseeable future, however, “sailing fast” is going to be quite a relative term.
It is hot, it is humid, and the sun beats down relentlessly … and there is no wind. And once we get through these doldrums, we will face a second set. We are currently making our way to the N to get around the bottom corner of the exclusion zone and head on towards Abu Dhabi. Light SW winds will give us a slight push across a big transition zone to get into a weak westerly flow over the course of Thursday (Dec. 4).
The 0045z Thursday IR satellite image shows a number of clouds capable of providing some stronger localized winds through Friday morning, but the westerly flow should remain less than 12 knots. That flow is followed by another set of doldrums, which we also must cross to then get into the NE trades which will bring us up to Oman and home. The next few days will be long and tiring and (did I mention?) HOT.
The challenge is that the tropical depression from last weekend has left a massive void of pressure gradients to drive our trade winds and, as a result, widened transition zones. Typically the best pressure is found along tightly packed isobars and, as the latest forecast shows, nearly 1,200 miles separate the nearest differences in pressure.
This makes for very slow going at the moment. When the isobars are separated by a distance equal to that as the crow flies from Newport to Miami on the USA’s East Coast, it makes for conditions better suited for water skiing than sailing. But sail we must and the skiing will have to wait.
Latest ETA to Abu Dhabi is December 15.