Volvo Ocean Race: Long way to Newport
Published on April 21st, 2015
It was a very slow start from Itajai, but Leg 6 is now well and truly underway with the fleet heading upwind into freshening conditions. MAPFRE hold a narrow lead, but there’s a long way to go to Newport. Courtesy of race supplier B&G, Mark Chisnell looks at the opening couple of days and what lies ahead…
It was a slow start to Leg 6, as the teams got underway from Itajai, Brazil for their journey back into the northern hemisphere and the finish at Newport, Rhode Island, USA, a ‘mere’ 5,010 miles away.
It was so light at the start time that overall leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were caught on the wrong side of the line, and had to go back. Fortunately, no one else was going anywhere in a hurry and they were soon back in the mix. After an hour of drifting, the race officials eventually shortened the inshore section of the course, and released the fleet to head for the USA, once they got to the first mark.
We predicted a light wind start last week with the South Atlantic High centred on roughly the same latitude as Itajai, about two thirds of the way across to Cape Town. It was forecast to provide a light north to north-easterly headwind from the western quadrant of the high (remember in the southern hemisphere the wind rotates anti-clockwise around a high), and so it turned out.
Fortunately, the forecast was for the breeze to freshen, and it did. It took about four hours for the wind to fill in enough to get everyone moving. If we look at the boat positions from 20:47 on the 19th April – four hours after the start – we can see the fleet departed Itajai after a south-easterly breeze gradually filled in, before swinging into the east as predicted, to let them sail the north-easterly course they needed.
Team Alvimedica and MAPFRE had popped out in front and now led the pack on starboard tack towards Cabo Frio – the headland at the corner just west of Rio de Janeiro. The wind continued to back (rotate anticlockwise) towards a more northerly direction, and the situation was also confused with some ugly clouds around that turned out to favor some boats over others.
A Bump in the Cloud
If we look at boat positions from midnight on the 19th, we can see some serious wobbling in the tracks of the whole fleet. I think that’s a cloud, and it looked at this point that both Dongfeng Race Team and Team SCA were more anxious to get going east on port tack than the others, and so it proved. After they all cleared the cloud and resumed progress north on starboard, the wind resumed its rotation, and Team SCA were the first onto port tack when the wind hit 063 degrees. Dongfeng followed them right after, while the others kept going; MAPFRE leading the pack going north.
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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 sixth leg, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, USA (5,010 nm), begins April 19 with an ETA of May 6.
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