Crawling along the exclusion zone

Published on January 5th, 2015

(January 5, 2015; Day 3) – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is tightly packed as they painstakingly head east along the coast of Iran towards Pakistan. No team is eager to get separated, particular in the light winds and offwind angles that now pervade the Gulf of Oman.

Equally compelling is the exclusion zone along Iran. Rules are rules, plus no need to test the tolerance of the Iranian navy, despite the international media attention such a move would attract.

“Everyone has been on deck more than they’ve been asleep down below,” reports Matt Knighton from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. “A tactical dogfight is the only way to describe what’s happening around us. Each team is guessing on what way the wind will shift next. One hour the left pays and the next it’s the right.”

A high-pressure system is just to the south of the fleet and hovers around the middle of the Arabian Sea. It forces the fleet to stay north following the coast. That’s until they get closer to Pakistan – or until the low moves east.

“The coastline and its steadier winds dominate the playbook, but of course we don’t want to lose touch with the fleet, especially now that we understand its significance,” reports Amory Ross from Alvimedica. “Ultimately, we want to make sure we’re the locomotive when that sea breeze begins to build. It could be a clear case of the rich getting richer, and it could happen very quickly.”

A westerly wind is forecasted to develop tonight offshore Iran and Pakistan, which should offer W and WNW winds that could be quite fresh during Tuesday afternoon. Then Wednesday looks to be a transition day where the W wind veers into the NW and N.

If the coastal options continues to favor, the tactics will soon include avoiding some 300,000 fishing boats that work along the Indian coast.

Leg 3 Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 4252.3 nm Distance to Finish
2. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 4.4 nm Distance to Lead
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 5.1 nm DTL
4. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 7.8 nm DTL
5. MAPFRE, Iker Martinez (ESP), 8.9 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 9.6 DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start

Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven 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. The third offshore leg from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China is 4,642 nm, started Jan. 3 with the ETA on or after Jan. 19.

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