Volvo Ocean Race ready to rumble again
Published on February 5th, 2015
Volvo Ocean Race’s six-strong fleet heads out for Leg 4 on Sunday (Feb. 8) with some big calls to make during the three weeks to complete the 5,264 nm route from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.
After three legs, Charles Caudrelier’s (FRA) Dongfeng Race Team lead the overall rank by a single point, with the next leg fully capable of shuffling the standings. Rob Greenhalgh, the ultra-experienced watch captain of MAPFRE (GBR), sums up the challenges.
“Historically, Leg 4 is a bit of a tricky one. A lot of upwind, a lot of reaching, quite a long leg as well. I imagine it will be quite close, certainly up until the Philippines. There’s a few options on routes to take beyond that. Tight reaching angles may see the boats separate a little bit.”
Most of the sailors agree that the Philippines will be a key staging post on a route that takes the boats through the South China Sea and into the Pacific, skirting past eastern Australia.
“Going in the right direction, beyond the Philippines, is key,” said Greenhalgh. “As you start cracking off and reaching, the boats which do the reaching angles fast will make a bit of a jump.”
Bekking, so determined to bury memories of his crew’s ‘bloody hopeless’ fifth place in the last leg and put Team Brunel back on track, agrees.
“The key point will be at the top of the Philippines. You have to make a decision – how far north you go or how far east,” he said. “Maybe it doesn’t show straight away, it will only show up after one and a half or two weeks of sailing, but it will be quite critical over there.”
The 51-year-old Dutchman is looking forward to almost perfect sailing conditions from the outset on Sunday as the fleet sails off from Sanya.
“It looks like a very good breeze leaving Sanya – maybe up to 25 to 30 knots – so that’s a bit different than three years ago when the guys were drifting around for a couple days,” he said. “That’s actually a bit uncomfortable, but at least we’ll make good mileage towards New Zealand so that’s a really good thing.”
Team Vestas Wind, whose boat was badly damaged on a reef in the Indian Ocean on November 29 during Leg 2, has arrived at the Persico yard in Bergamo, Italy, and the first stages of the rebuild were now underway with a hoped-for return to the race in June.
Meantime, the latest round of the In-Port Race Series will be held on Saturday. Bookmark this link to watch both the In-Port race and Leg 4 start on February 7 and 8, but be sure to calculate the time difference as the races will occur a day earlier in some time zones.
Source: VOR media
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.