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VOR: East is best in Pacific descent

Published on February 23rd, 2015

(February 23, 2015; Day 16) – While the Volvo Ocean Race fleet made good time getting through the Doldrums, much of today was the payback, what Abu Dhabi navigator Simon Fisher called “the Doldrums outside the Doldrums”.

The fleet was in a 150nm band of very unstable and unpredictable light winds, which for a time today saw all the bows on a line extending 50nm from east to west. “We can feel the rivalry and there’s no time for distractions,” reported Francisco Vignale on MAPRE. “The fact is that just one gust can get you out and solve the race itself.”

Gonzalo Infante, the Race Control manager and weather expert, notes how the weather models in the tropical areas are of little help.

“In the western tropical Pacific Ocean, more than two wind systems converge. Because the air is continuous, it has to flow somewhere. That makes it rise and, as the water vapor condenses when the temperature drops, it creates these amazing cloud lines. The stronger the flow rises, the more energy the clouds have. For the sailors, they have to play an aggressive clouds management game.”

But the game ended when the easterly filled in, benefiting the boats to that side. That group consists of MAPRE, Abu Dhabi, and Dongfeng, and they may very well distance themselves from the rest of the teams as the easterly trades should make for some fast reaching the rest of the way towards the top of New Zealand.

Leg 4 (5,264 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 1294.8 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 4.2 nm Distance to Lead
3. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 5.5 nm DTL
4. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 27.7 nm DTL
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 30.0 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 58.6 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 Feb. 27-28.

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