Ian Walker: High in the way

Ian Walker: High in the way

Friday March 23 2012 Author: Ian Walker ADOR Location: none selected

Right now as our competitors sail away at over 20 knots straight down the course we have an unenviable decision to make. As a bubble of high pressure (light wind) grows directly in our path we can either try to sail around it to the north, both adding distance and the possibility of sailing upwind, or we can gybe and head south directly into the high and very light winds.

Salvation would have been to go further south but we are constrained by the ice limits so that is not an option. The question is which way will lose us the less distance? Going north sounds better as it is more proactive, we should keep moving through the water (i.e. not totally becalmed) and the recent weather model suggests a slight benefit, but going south is safer as it means we will be better positioned when the next weather system eventually heads east.

The southerly route also keeps us nearer to the rhumb line should things change for the better. As you can see it is not a great choice so we must look elsewhere for good news. Firstly we have enjoyed some nice downwind sailing conditions, secondly Azzam and crew are in good shape and perhaps most importantly we are still getting closer to Cape Horn (albeit slower than we would like).

The same cannot be said of Sanya and we really feel for those guys. They were again sailing a good leg and getting good speed out of the older boat. I know how hard it was to turn around when only 40 miles out from Auckland let alone over 1,000 miles. We wish those guys good luck and hope they can rejoin the race soon.

Back onboard Azzam the next few days are going to need a lot of patience a there will be a lot of lost miles. Sanya’s misfortune is a timely reminder that Itajai remains a long way away and this is still an exercise in managing ourselves and our boat. We must hope that we get through this tricky bit better than it appears in the weather and that we get a chance to catch up later in the leg.

Photos below from Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

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