Welcome to the armpit of the Asian Detour

Published on January 18th, 2015

(January 18, 2015; Day 16) – After an agonizing crossing of the Bay of Bengal, the Volvo Ocean Race has now traded bad for worse. The fleet has passed the island and waypoint of Pulau Weh and are now well on the way into the Malacca Strait.

To get to China, the fleet must survive this 500nm long stretch of water, separating Malaysia from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Not only must they avoid the submerged debris and fishing gear in the water, they must weave their way through one of the busiest shipping channels in the world.

“The race is, without doubt, going to be decided there,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier.

There is typically less wind in the Malacca Strait due to the range of high mountains to the east. The monsoon winds hit the mountain range on Malaysia and like flowing water around a solid rock in a river, it funnels round the edge of the range leaving an eddy of turbulent confused wind in its lee. Unfortunately for the sailors they are about sail into this lee.

The shuffle in the standings, specifically the rise of Alvimedica, is a result of choices occurring in the fleet. Sailing closehauled in northeast winds, MAPRE, Abu Dhabi, and Brunel are continuing on starboard tack… a right angle to rhumbline. By tacking to port, Alvimedica jumped from fifth to second, and is now heading southeast down the channel toward the next waypoint off Singapore.

Time will tell if short term gains become long term equity.

Leg 3 (4,642 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 1617.5 nm Distance to Finish
2. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 82.8 nm Distance to Lead
3. MAPFRE, Iker Martinez (ESP), 90.0 nm DTL
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 98.2 nm DTL
5. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 99.5 DTL
6. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 104.4 nm 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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