VOR: An almost impossible decision

Published on January 11th, 2015

(January 11, 2015; Day 9) – It has been a day of compression for the Volvo Ocean Race as the tail of the fleet cracked sheets and closed miles as they reached on to a low, westerly road toward the tip of India.

But with the fleet getting ready to turn left for the long upwind leg toward the Malacca Strait, the question will be what prevails: the inside or the outside of the wheel.

Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier knows the deciding factor will be the impact from the wind shadow of the southern India mountains. “How far off India should we pass? An almost impossible decision.”

Dongfeng is on the inside route, and if the wind stays strong, their shorter distance will pay off. However, if the winds are better offshore, this race could turn inside out.

Once that question is answered, the next one will be which team is best set-up for the wind compression which funnels through the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka. This question is two-part, since these strong winds will decrease again on Monday afternoon as the boats get closer to the southern tip of Sri Lanka.

Once there, they will have to deal with the wind shadow of the mountains of Sri Lanka.

“The island of Sri Lanka is more than 2000 metres high, and creates a wind shadow to its south of more than 200km,” notes Caudrelier. “This must be the question all the navigators are asking themselves over the past few days, but soon we all have to make the decision.

“This could be the key to winning this leg and unfortunately one probably needs more luck than skill to get it right. We don’t like that.”

Leg 3 Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 2883.7 nm Distance to Finish
2. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 21.7 nm Distance to Lead
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 26.2 nm DTL
4. MAPFRE, Iker Martinez (ESP), 44.9 nm DTL
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 49.4 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 63.5 DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start

Race websiteTrackingScoreboardVideos

Background: The fleet is now on Leg 3 from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China (4,642 nm), which started Jan. 3 with an ETA on or after Jan. 19. 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.

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