Slow Progress to Portugal

Published on August 15th, 2017

(August 15, 2017) – It is the second day for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet in the fourth and final race of the Leg Zero qualifying series in advance of the October 22 start of the 20178-18 edition.

The 770 nm race from St Malo, France to Lisbon, Portugal has been characterized by light winds, and with the exception of Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, the fleet has remained close together as they sailed downwind towards Cape Finisterre.

At 0800 UTC:
MAPFRE split from the rest of the Volvo Ocean 65s, sailing more west and committing to a path through the front in order to reach the new northerly winds that were beginning to form.

The Spanish team’s navigator Joan Vila took himself away from the computer – and being on deck making observations is key for all the navigators during moments like these.

This investment to the west by MAPFRE was the crucial move in the final stage of Leg Zero which put them screaming into the lead three hours later, sailing 50% faster and in more wind than their rivals.

The remainder of the fleet were facing slower upwind conditions associated with the southern extent of the decaying cold front, producing a light westerly airflow. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag went west very early on in this leg in search of new northerly wind flow, however this strategy placed them much further north and upwind of the fleet.

At 1500 UTC:
MAPFRE are holding onto a lead of nearly 3 nm as the boats approach Cape Finisterre in dying wind.

The fleet is now in a critical situation, sandwiched between Spanish rocky cliffs to the south and a zone of no wind dropping down on top of them.

“We’re in this sort of north westerly breeze but it’s not going to last long,” reports Simon Fisher on Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “It’s a race against time for us to get south and down the Spanish/Portuguese coast before a ridge of high-pressure squashes over us.”

Nobody has more than 4 knots of wind at the moment and the crews will be struggling to keep the sails filled as the boats wallow in the swell generated by the approaching depression to the north west of the fleet. Frustrating times but still good practice as the Volvo Ocean Race includes four passages through the doldrums and whatever they can learn now about light wind sailing could win the race later.

For now, the Spanish team have a strong Leg Zero advantage thanks to two wins, one second place and a clear lead today.

At 18:00 UTC:

MAPFRE continues to hold a 3 nm lead but three boats – Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Dongfeng, and AkzoNobel – are bunched and ready to pounce. There will be an upcoming critical gybe as the boats sail past Cape Finisterre to windward, with a TSS exclusion zone keeping the fleet from extending too far offshore. After the gybe it’s a southerly course for the remaining 300 nm to the finish in Lisbon, Portugal.

To track the fleet… click here.

Overall standings after 3 of 4 completed races in Leg Zero:
1. MAPFRE 23 points
2. Team Brunel 20
3. Dongfeng Race Team 19
4. team AkzoNobel 15
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing 12
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic 9
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 7

While an overall winner will be declared, no points will be carried forward to the Volvo Ocean Race itself, which starts on October 22 from Alicante, Spain.

The seven teams in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race must compete in four required qualification races, known as Leg Zero, to prepare for the October 22 start in Alicante, Spain.

Two legs combined with scheduled events:
• August 2: The immensely popular Round the Island Race, a 50-nautical mile sprint around the Isle of Wight.
• August 6: The famous 603 nm Rolex Fastnet Race featuring some of the hottest yachting hardware on the planet in a coastal race that has historically served up a hearty dose of danger – and a lot of stressed navigators.

Two legs just for the Volvo Open 65 teams:
• August 10: Plymouth, England to St Malo in France (125 nm)
• August 13: St Malo to Lisbon, Portugal (770 nm)

Overall Leg Zero standings after 3 of 4 races:
1. MAPFRE 23 points
2. Team Brunel 20
3. Dongfeng Race Team 19
4. Team AkzoNobel 15
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing 12
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic 9
7. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 7

NOTE: There remains the possibility for an 8th team to still enter. If this occurs, the Notice of Race has a provision to ensure qualification sailing at the direction of the race organizer occurs.

Race detailsRace routeFacebook

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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