Harken Derm

Further delay for Volvo Ocean Race

Published on March 16th, 2015

(March 16, 2015; 10:03 UTC) – Following fresh information on the development of Cyclone Pam, today Race organisers announced that Leg 5 from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí, Brazil will now start on Wednesday, March 18 at 09:00 NZDT (Tuesday March 17, 20:00 UTC). The start was initially planned for Sunday (Mar. 15) but has incurred several postponements.

“We see a significant change between leaving Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning in easier conditions, and this was also the preference of the majority of the teams,” commented Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad, coming straight out of a meeting with the six teams’ skippers, navigators and weather experts in Auckland.

“There’s probably not many people who have sailed very close to a cyclone,” commented Team SCA’s navigator Libby Greenhalgh. The winner of The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race Auckland on Saturday agrees with this decision. “On Tuesday, we would be in 35 to 40 knots for between five and seven days, whereas Wednesday that’s not the case.”

Libby continued, “We still end up catching it up but the storm has started to decay. It’s probably going to be significantly different even though that’s difficult to estimate and easy to underestimate as well. It’s not been easy for Volvo Ocean Race to decide but they’ve listened and everyone has had their opportunity to put forward what they feel, and I think they’ve taken a reasonable stab at it. For us we’re happy, we’re pleased.”

Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker was frustrated to have to wait another day in Auckland, having voted to go Tuesday and take the windy downwind option to Cape Horn. “We had a discussion about whether we should start on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Four of the six teams very strongly felt that we should leave on Wednesday, so the organisers decided that we should leave at 09:00 Wednesday morning.”

Now less than 48 hours to the start of this 6,776-nautical mile stage across the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn, Frostad also put things into perspective, reminding the fleet of the actual impact of Tropical Cyclone Pam in the Pacific region.

“This is a cyclone which has killed many people, and created a total disaster in some amazing islands that we just raced through north of New Zealand,” said Frostad. “It’s not just a weather system, we’re talking about a natural disaster. For me, as a race organiser, I would never even consider starting in that cyclone. We know that the system is still out there. We have enough wind readings to know that it’s still strong. There are times when you just simply have to wave the safety flag.”

Additional comments from Knut Frostad here.

Estimated Time of Arrival in Brazil:
The initial range of ETAs in Itajaí was from April 1-5, 2015. However, this is now likely to be delayed and at this stage there are still too many uncertainties in the forecast to establish a clearer range. More information as the leg progresses.

Follow the start live!
Live streaming starts at 08:45 (local) Wednesday / 19:45 UTC Tuesday on the race home page, app and YouTube channel, with updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Crew list for Leg 5.

Source: Event media

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 fifth leg, from Auckland, NZL to Itajaí, Brazil (6,776 nm), begins March 18 with an ETA not yet established. Race website.

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