VOR: The boring sailing is over
Published on February 19th, 2015
(February 19, 2015; Day 12) – After nearly a week of port tack reaching, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet approaches the Doldrums with all bows finally pointing south toward the finish line.
Predications of better winds to the east came through today as the eastern pack of MAPRE, Dongfeng, and SCA made gains on the western pack of Abu Dhabi and Alvimedica. Leader Brunel, at 1 degree north, is centered ahead of the two groups which are 30nm apart.
Bouwe Bekking, skipper of Brunel, provides an update…
“It’s not very often I think about the mileage to go, but this leg has been some sort of boring sailing-wise until now. We are getting close to Equator and we are facing numerous big clouds in each watch, which makes it interesting from a short strategy perspective.
“We are giving the sailors on watch total freedom, how to attack a cloud formation, so that is why you can see on the tracker back home some very big changes in our course. These cloud formations are small weather cells on their own and that means that the wind is shifting/changing direction with sometimes more than 180 degrees.
“You have to be aggressive, as otherwise you can end up in an area of no wind. Last night when it was pitch dark, we got caught out by an all of a sudden huge wind shift. Within a split second, the breeze came from the opposite direction. The boat nearly flattened and the big code zero was stuck on the wrong side against the rig.
“The guys who were off watch jumped up and stormed on deck, just feeling that something was not right. Seconds later everything was under control again, continuing on the same course, but on the opposite tack. The boring sailing is over!”
Brunel’s lead is far from secure. With less than 40nm separating the fleet, the race remains wide open.
“Whoever makes the best sense of the Doldrums could get a big jump on the fleet so there are tense times ahead,” predicts Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker. ”After the Equator is a bit of blank page right now but it will start with some fast easterly reaching in the trade winds. The weather for the final approach to Auckland is still too far off to be accurate about.”
The leaders are currently predicted to cross the finish line in Auckland on or around March 1.
Leg 4 (5,264 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 2404.5 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 24.6 nm Distance to Lead
3. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 35.0 nm DTL
4. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 35.1 nm DTL
5. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 37.2 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 37.6 nm 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 fourth leg, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand (5,264 nm), began Feb. 8 with an ETA of Mar. 1-5.