VOR: Dongfeng goes from zero to hero

Published on February 22nd, 2015

(February 22, 2015; Day 15) – The teams in the Volvo Ocean Race woke up today, rubbed their eyes, and sat in disbelief for what they just endured.

“What Doldrums,” asked Sam Greenfield on Dongfeng. “Instead of drifting around and staring at big clouds we were tearing through the fastest and wettest conditions I’d seen on this leg or the past.”

After weather forecasts and routings indicated a light wind patch that could perhaps delay arrivals, the conditions proved to be anything but.

“What a crazy night,” remarked Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker. “Huge clouds, loads of rain, massive gains and losses, Leg 4 has just been reset. As fast as we make plans in the nav station we are having to tear them up and start again. Now we find ourselves sailing in 20 knots more wind than forecast and literally ripping towards Auckland.”

As good as it has been for most of the teams, it has been brutally bad for Brunel. After outsmarting the fleet with their easterly route from the Philippines, and holding the lead for the past seven days, misfortune has now seen them freefall in the standings.

Their own private wind shift pointed them towards Treasures Island, forcing a gybe that had them making zero knots VMG for 50 nm while the rest of the fleet blazed south. You know it’s bad when the onboard reporter does not submit their daily update.

Conversely, overall race leader Dongfeng has gone from zero to hero. After sitting in last position four days ago, they have overcome a 121nm deficit to take the lead.

“They came from directly behind to now in front of us,” said Rob Greenhalgh on MAPRE. “They are in general a little bit faster. We have tried everything but haven’t been able to match their speed. It’s been a struggle.”

On a southeasterly course, winds have lightened for the fleet as they tight reach on starboard, with 40nm between Alvimedica to the west and Dongfeng to the east. Dongfeng is now at 13 degrees south, with an ETA now possibly on February 28.

Leg 4 (5,264 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 1418.3 nm Distance to Finish
2. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 5.3 nm Distance to Lead
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 8.3 nm DTL
4. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 9.6 nm DTL
5. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 18.2 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 76.9 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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