Volvo Ocean Race: Close Encounters
Published on November 12th, 2017
(November 12, 2017; Leg 2, Day 8) – For the first time since early in Leg 2, less than 60 miles separate first from last with the Doldrums having the expected effect on the fleet of the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race.
Dongfeng Race Team retains the lead in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race, but only just, as the leaders slow in Doldrums conditions. Less than 10 miles separate first from fourth, and the difference between first and worst is scarcely 55 miles, good news for the back markers, who are back in the game.
These are agonizing conditions for the sailors, who normally live and die by each of the six-hourly position reports. But with the positions closing up, the other boats are either in sight from on deck, or visible on AIS (Automatic Identification System), a maritime tracking system that shows the position and speed/direction of boats within about 10-12 nautical miles of each other for safety purposes. Today, the leading group of five are almost certainly visible on AIS to each other.
While the Doldrums are often considered an area of no wind, in reality, it is more often an area of variable conditions, where storm cells bring sudden strong winds from a different direction to the prevailing lighter conditions. This means constant vigilance, and makes it difficult to choose the right sail selection.
“We were sailing south with the fractional code zero (a big headsail good for sailing with the wind on the side of the boat) on and doing about 20 knots boatspeed and we could see a big cloud line ahead, which means something is going to happen,” explained MAPFRE watch captain Rob Greenhalgh, giving an example of life in the Doldrums.
“It was a big header (windshift), 50-degree header, and an increase in breeze, which meant a frenzy of sail changes, so we’re now on a jib, going upwind, close reaching, so our boatspeed is significantly less. Everyone is going to come through this line of Doldrums. Everyone is going to get it. We won’t know how it comes out for about five days.”
It might even come sooner than that. The leading teams should reach the equator in the next 24 hours or so, and pick up the trade winds again within two or three days.
Leg 2 – Position Report (19:00 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA) 3791.5 nm DTF
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP) 0.9 nm DTL
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 5.7 nm DTL
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED) 8.5 nm DTL
5. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED) 13.5 nm DTL
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS) 46.3 nm DTL
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR) 55.2 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Leader
To see the crew lists… click here.
The second leg of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race started November 5 and is expected to take three weeks for the seven teams to complete the 7000 nm course from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa.
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: Scuttlebutt, Volvo Ocean Race