Another good day for Team Brunel

Published on March 22nd, 2015

(March 22, 2015; Day 6) – The Dutchies continue to extend their lead over all the boats except Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing who up until the last scheduled check-in, had not lost or gained on the current leg leaders. At 1900 UTC the yellow boat was hammering along at 19 knots, reaching in 16kt of wind.

Bouwe Bekking’s crew has that extra knot of power that makes them the fastest boat on average, with 15 knots of speed over the last 12 hours. Team Brunel have been sailing slightly farther from the wind compared to the Emiratis and the Turkish-Americans of Team Alvimedica. On every position report, the Dutch boat has gained about 10 miles on Team Alvimedica and five miles on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

Abu Dhabi and Team Alvimedica have not quite held the boat speed of Brunel, with Alvimedica having a tighter angle to the wind not allowing them to sail as free as Brunel, and Ian Walker’s crew suffering form a slightly lower wind speed. We can expect Bouwe Becking’s men to slightly increase their lead in the next position report.

Overnight, the field of boats should see the next hand of cards be dealt as they reach the point of split. Looking at the different routing options, it shows one option for a northern passage around the current weather system but there are more options for a southern routing with more wind and shorter distance.

It’s an option open to the whole fleet as the north-to-south separation of the fleet is only 85 nautical miles (nm). If there is a gain to be had, 85 nm is not too much to make the decision with so long left of this leg.

The boats that continue south towards the ice limits should hit it at the limit #7 and continue east along the boundary until #8 where they can then head southeast once again, unless their strategy changes. The wind will build over the next 12 hours and should see the boats that continue on into 25kt and a building sea state.

Matt Knighton, Onboard Reporter on Azzam, has just given his view, “Team Brunel have worked down throughout the day to be sitting right on top of our line and they’re now 36 miles directly on our bow in a good position. We expect the wind to build ahead and so the ‘rich will get richer’ at this point. Same goes for Team Alvimedica, though a small victory today was had when we took a degree of bearing out of them as they sailed a higher course to ours. Still, we’re happy to see the pack of three in the back. We’ll continue eyeballing them closely, though the racing won’t really begin until we round Cape Horn we expect.”

Back with the southern pack, the last 24 hours have been very interesting too. Dongfeng Race Team claimed fourth position around and are still ahead of the all-female crew less than four nautical miles (nm) behind, while the Spanish boat is 2 nm behind the magenta boat. All three are within 15 nm of each other.

Of that trio, Sam Davies’ crew have been heading a few degrees further south, closer to the wind, while the other two are sailing few degrees lower, averaging almost one knot faster than Team SCA.

Team SCA’s Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled, writes: “We tacked and made a few sail changes to get through the high-pressure system and further down south. Today the breeze has been a little bit stronger. The plan is to jump on the Roaring 40’s and the Screaming 50’s and get a fast and spectacular down wind ride all the way to Cape Horn. The leg is quite straightforward. We all know where the wind is. The question is who is going to catch it first?”

Leg 5 (6,776 nm) Position Report (21:40 UTC)
1. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 4994 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 47.9 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 51.7 nm DTL
4. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 71.3 DTL
5. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 83.7 nm DTL
6. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 85.3 nm DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start

Race websiteTrackingScoreboardVideosCrew list

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), began March 18 with an ETA of approximately April 4.

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