Harken Derm

Weather questions ahead for Volvo Ocean Race fleet

Published on March 19th, 2015

Since leaving the East Cape of New Zealand, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet has been reaching in 20-30 knots of wind and 5-m waves. It has been a ‘drag’ race with all boats heading east and going around the depression … remnants of Cyclone Pam. Living life at 20 knots.

There is a split in the fleet with the leading team, Alvimedica in the north and Abu Dhabi to the south. The big question is: which positioning will pay off – north or south? There is a 50+ nm split north to south, which is significant.

The PredictWind routing is slightly favouring the northern track, but what’s interesting will be how they transition when the high pressure system moves over the fleet. As the wind drops and shifts to the east, the boats will go from reaching to upwind sailing as they try to thread their way through the high pressure system. The trick will be to stay out of the middle of the high pressure system, and reach the stronger winds to the east. This transition is key to making a break on the rest of the fleet for the rest of the leg.

The teams are in for a quick passage as they head for Cape Horn. PredictWind is forecasting they reach the coast around the 30th of March. The high pressure system will give the fleet light to moderate winds for the next few days, but by the 23rd we are back into classic southern ocean sailing until Cape Horn. Expect winds in the 20-35 range and a swell building to impressive 5m significant wave height on the 24th March and then decreasing back to the average 2.5m swell height.

Picking a course over the next few days, through these changing conditions, will be a challenging task for the navigators. Boat handling and speed will play a big part in deciding who reaches Cape Horn first!

Report courtesy of PredictWind.com

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