Volvo Ocean Race: Leg 7 Preview, A Classic Stage
Published on May 12th, 2015
Mark Chisnell previews the action for Leg 7 – the classic trans-Atlantic stage that will take the fleet back to Europe where it all started just seven short months ago. The distance from Newport, Rhode Island, to Lisbon, Portugal is just 2,800 miles, so this is going to be over relatively quickly. The In-Port Race will be on May 16th at 19:00 UTC (2pm local), with the leg starting at 19:00 UTC (2pm local) on the 17th May.
Leg 7 from Newport, Rhode Island to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal is just 2,800 miles and this trans-Atlantic crossing is to ocean racing what L’Alpe d’Huez is to the Tour de France – a classic. The whole idea of racing yachts across oceans started back in 1905, when the hard-driving, three time America’s Cup winner, Charlie Barr, won the Kaiser’s Cup on the schooner Atlantic. He did the crossing in just over 12 days – which is no disgrace in a monohull even now – but I think our fleet will manage it a little quicker.
Riders of the Storm Track
In all the leg previews so far we’ve featured the idea of crossing or transiting along climate zones. This is the last chance I’ll get before we quit open ocean racing for the coastal variety, but I don’t see any reason to do it differently this time. The start lies firmly in the storm track, the belt of east-going low pressure systems that would normally – along with the Gulf Stream – dominate the opening tactics of Leg 7.
The low pressure systems and the Gulf Stream are both headed for Europe, just like the boats, and ought to promise a fast ride east for the first half of the course. Just like the Southern Ocean, only in the North Atlantic and often just as cold, or even colder. Sounds great, huh?
Ice, Ice Baby
Before we look at the actual forecast (and come crashing back to earth), it’s worth noting that the Race Officials have set up some exclusion zones, in particular an ice limit line that will mark the northern boundary of the race course. The idea of the ice limit is to keep them away from the Grand Banks. This is where the cold water of the Labrador Current – which carries the ice down from the Arctic – meets the warm water of the Gulf Stream. It’s notorious for fog and bad storms, as well as icebergs. In fact, The Perfect Storm of movie and book fame happened right here.
High Pressure Sandwich
The Gulf Stream, low pressure systems and Grand Banks fog are the classic elements that usually open a trans-Atlantic from New England. But the forecast for 18:00 on 17th May, just after the start on Sunday actually has a fair bit of high pressure in the North Atlantic. Much more, read on.
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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 seventh leg, from Newport, USA to Lisbon, Portugal (2,800 nm), begins May 17 with an ETA between May 22 and 29.
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