VOR: This could have been much, much worse

Published on February 16th, 2015

(February 16, 2015; Day 9) – As Team Brunel swooped down from their northern position to take the lead of the Volvo Ocean Race, the opinion onboard Abu Dhabi, which had been leading the four boats in the southern pack, is that it could have been much, much worse.

“The damage doesn’t seem as bad as first feared,” said Abu Dhabi’s skipper Ian Walker, whose team has conceded the lead now to Bouwe Bekking’s squad. The leader’s latitude is now at 10 degrees north.

Bekking had one hundred per cent confidence in the northern route. “It wasn’t a gamble at all. I was amazed that the other teams didn’t go north with us.” Brunel navigator Andrew Cape is less than impressed with the strategy of the other teams. “The other boats are sailing very defensively. It’s like a procession and nobody dares to make a decision like ours.”

Walker figures their persistence helped minimize the situation. “My first guess was they could be 140 miles ahead but thanks to thrashing the boat hard we have kept it down. Fortunately for us SCA seem to have dropped back a bit and will now struggle to cross head of us. Nice sailing by Brunel for sure, especially as they were struggling for speed upwind on the way to Luzon.

“Capey’s crystal ball is working its magic but then looking at the scale of the Doldrums ahead it will need to. Brunel’s gamble benefitted hugely by the routing pushing so far east but the question now for everyone is how far east do we continue to go? Believe me I would love to bear away, put up the fractional zero and point straight at Auckland, but that would leave us too far west – or would it?

“There is no agreement in the main weather models as to where to cross the Doldrums, and even if there was, the models are notoriously inaccurate at these latitudes. In reality the weather ahead looks totally chaotic so I wouldn’t be taking anything for granted right now. Right now we are just trying to sail fast and hedge our bets until we have to commit. Fortunately the guys behind seem to be doing the same at the moment – but that won’t last forever.”

Leg 4 (5,264 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)

1. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 3093.2 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 45.5 nm Distance to Lead
3. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 58.5 nm DTL
4. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 66.0 nm DTL
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 69.7 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 104.1 nm DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start

Race websiteTrackingScoreboardVideos

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 fourth leg, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand (5,264 nm), began Feb. 8 with an ETA of Mar. 1-5.

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