VOR B&G Navigators’ Prize – Will Oxley, Team Alvimedica Wins Leg 9

Published on June 24th, 2015

(June 24, 2015) – The B&G Navigators’ Prize for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 Prize is presented to the Navigator who has made the most effective use of meteorological, oceanographic and geographical information to gain distance on the majority of the fleet, as voted for by the Navigators themselves. Each of the Navigators competing in the race has been asked to score his or her fellow navigators from one to six points during each leg, with Lorient to Gothenburg counting as one leg.

The Navigator with the highest points score at the end of each leg will win a cash prize of $1000. The Navigator with the highest cumulative points score at the end of the race will win $5000. The Navigators are not allowed to vote for themselves. The B&G Navigators’ Prize for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is, if you like, the prize for the ‘Navigators’ Navigator’.

Leg 9 from Lorient to Gothenburg via The Hague proved to be one of the most tactically demanding legs of the race so far, as is well documented by Mark Chisnell. It saw one of the most significant fleet splits in the whole race, as half of the fleet headed for the French coast and half for the English coast.

Will Oxley and Team Alvimedica were among the group which chose what proved to be the winning side of the Dover TSS; the French side. They arrived first in to The Hague and after the 24 hour pit-stop and re-start, they also crossed the final finish line of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in Gothenburg at the front of the fleet to win the leg.

Here is what Will Oxley had to say to B&G about the decision making process which resulted in the win:

There have been a lot of questions about the split of the fleet in the English channel and why we chose the southern (French) side of the Dover TSS. The decision was not an easy one and we delayed it nearly until the final western TSS layline to make sure we had the most up to date weather information.

At this point some background to the data we use on board seems worthwhile. We have access to two very high resolution weather models; the first is the HIRLAM (High Resolution Limited Area Model) available 4 times a day out for two days with one hour time steps. This is a 0.1 degree resolution model based on the EC model that consistently performs well, however it is only available in Europe. We also have access to the GCWF (Great Circle Weather Forecast based on the WRF model).

Depending on where we are in the world the horizontal resolution of this model ranges between 0.1 degree (12-15km) to 0.001 (1km). This model went out from 2-4 days in one hour time steps. All the Volvo teams access these models using the marine weather software program SQUID produced by the company Great Circle (www.greatcircle.be).

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June 17, 2015. Leg 9 to Gothenburg onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 1. Free from the Bay of Biscay the fleet rounds Brest on the way to the English Channel, all within close proximity. Will Oxley stresses at the nav station after a long and tiresome night of monitoring a complex French coastline.

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