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Volvo Ocean Race: Hitting the wall

Published on May 26th, 2018

(May 26, 2018; Day 7) – The leading boats in the Volvo Ocean Race have left yesterday’s record-breaking conditions in their wake as they bump into a ridge of high pressure that is beginning to slow their progress towards the finish in Cardiff.

The Leg 9 leader today is team AkzoNobel, the crew still basking in the afterglow of setting a new 24-hour distance record for the Volvo Ocean Race.

Skipper Simeon Tienpont’s team smashed the old Volvo Ocean 65 record run of 550.8 nautical miles, then broke through the 600-mile barrier to provisionally claim the outright race record with a 24-hour run of 602.5 miles.

“I would have bet the house you couldn’t do 600 miles on one of these boats,” said watch captain Chris Nicholson. “I’m so happy for the whole team. It’s really cool. Everything had to align perfectly to break the record… what an effort!”

Regrettably, the team can’t spend much time celebrating. Already, the strong to gale force winds that pushed the fleet into record-breaking territory are easing and the leaders are starting to feel the effects of a high pressure ridge standing between them and the finish line.

“There is a big, big light spot ahead of us,” explained Dongfeng Race Team skipper Charlles Caudrelier, from his third place position, nearly 30 miles back of the front runners.

“Unfortunately for the leader there is a wall of no wind. I don’t think anyone will cross it as it will move with us and we will have to wait and we’ll have a new start, all together. So I imagine there will be a big compression…”

At 1100 UTC the leading pair, team AkzoNobel and Team Brunel were only seeing 3 to 5 knots of wind, and watching helplessly as their hard-won advantage on the ranking started to plummet.

At 1600 UTC yesterday afternoon, for example, Dongfeng Race Team was 62 miles behind team AkzoNobel. By 1100 this morning, the margin was barely 25 miles, and the compression is expected to continue.

This is good news for those at the back, although there is a chance the leading pair break through the ridge and find favourable winds on the other side while the rest of the fleet is mired in the light and variable conditions.

“At the moment the ridge is stationary and that may allow a couple of the leaders to punch through it,” explains Brian Thompson, the navigator on Turn the Tide on Plastic, still some 60 miles from the lightest conditions.

“But just as we get into it, it’s going to start to move back towards the UK and we’ll only be able to go the speed that it’s going. That’s going to be particularly frustrating for our team, but there will be other boats in the same predicament and we’ll be fighting with them to get out of this ridge and into the good wind on the other side.”

The light conditions mean that even though team AkzoNobel now has less than 600 miles to run to the finish – a number they’ve just sailed in 24 hours – it will in fact take closer to three days to reach Cardiff.

Current ETAs have the leading group finishing in the early hours on May 29, with the rest of the fleet finishing throughout the day.

For crew lists… click here.

COURSE: Starting on May 20, Leg 9 takes the fleet from Newport, USA to Cardiff, Wales. Race organizers choose to estimate the tactical distance for each leg rather than list the actual distance, an unusual decision that’s revealed once the race starts and the tracker lists the actual distance to finish. The organizers say Leg 9 is 3300nm whereas the actual distance from the tracker is 2878.4nm.

Race detailsTrackerScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

Leg 9 – Position Report (11:00 UTC)
1. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 598.8 nm DTF
2. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 1.9 nm DTL
3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 26.6 nm DTL
4. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 34.7 nm DTL
5. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 50.9 nm DTL
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 65.1 nm DTL
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 95.0 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead

Overall Results (after 8 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 53 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 50
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 42
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 36
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 28
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 27
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 22

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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