Volvo Ocean Race: Calling the 350 nm layline

Published on April 4th, 2015

(April 4, 2015; Day 19) – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is now aiming at the finish, sailing in 10 knots of wind with 10 to 12 knots of upwind speed on starboard tack. But as they neared layline on port tack, 350 nm from the finish, the question of when to tack was on everyone’s mind.

Amory Ross on Alvimedica explained the scenario, “If we tack now will someone, or everyone, follow? Or would we spear off alone and lose touch with the group? Or do we want to be the first to tack to gain some leverage and force a hand? What if Abu Dhabi goes–do we follow? Or get our leverage then, by sailing extra miles to the north? If Brunel tacks do we cover? Or let them go?

The first boat to tack and spook the herd was Alvimedica, followed almost immediately by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. MAPFRE and Team Brunel quickly followed, keeping the relative positions the same. The fleet had been slowly headed on port before tacking onto what may be their final tack on starboard.

With the leading four boats are all within AIS range, not much goes unnoticed.

Unlike the European wind models, the American GFS model shows a much more unstable patch of wind 20nm offshore. Brunel hopes the conditions avoid the J1 range, which has broken again following a repair.

“After an hour of sailing with the repaired J1 up, it stripped apart again and skipper Bekking signalled to drop the sail once more,” reported Stefan Coppers from Brunel. “It is the best sail for the wind between 12 and 20 knots.”

Standing by for impact…

Leg 5 (6,776 nm) Position Report (18:40 UTC)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 288.9 nm Distance to Finish
2. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 1.9 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 2.8 nm DTL
4. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 8.8 nm DTL
5. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 593.3 nm DTL
6. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), Did not finish
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 5.

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