Forecast ahead threatens to shuffle Volvo Ocean Race
Published on February 24th, 2015
(February 24, 2015; Day 17) – After the third leg to China fell apart for Brunel, they had hoped to return to the podium on the leg to New Zealand. And for nearly a week, they held the lead, and were conservatively positioned entering the Doldrums. And then in all fell apart… again.
“F **ck … we were in the lead,” said crew Rokas Milevicius. “We had the race in the hands… how could this happen?”
Brunel dropped to fifth, a painful descent, made worse as Dongfeng advanced from last to first.
“We have to be honest, it is gonna be very difficult to get back to where we were,” admits Gerd-Jan Poortman on Brunel.
Launched when the easterly trades kicked in, Dongfeng, Abu Dhabi, and MAPFRE are all in stronger winds than those behind, a trend that should continue until the leaders reach less wind near the North Island of New Zealand and a high-pressure system that is slowly building.
It’s those final miles that could offer a chance for the fleet to nab the lead as Dongfeng and Abu Dhabi focus on each other, a result of their one point spread at the top of the overall standings.
“It is hugely significant who beats who between us as it looks like that will decide the overall race leader in Auckland,” notes Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker. “But the wind in the last 24 hours looks very fickle and light which could bring the whole fleet closer together again. It will also mean hope remains for whoever is behind between us and Dongfeng.”
Leg 4 (5,264 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 950.0 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 2.3 nm Distance to Lead
3. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 14.1 nm DTL
4. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 60.0 nm DTL
5. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 72.3 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 82.3 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 Feb. 27-28.