Ian Walker: Questions, questions

Ian Walker: Questions, questions

Tuesday June 12 2012 Author: Ian Walker ADOR Location: none selected

As predicted, Groupama and Telefónica are giving a master class in reaching speed as the fleet slowly curves up in the lifting breeze towards the Azores. There is simply nothing the rest of us can do to match them until the wind changes or some tactical opportunities open up.

The good news for us is that after 24 hours we can still see them (just) and we have hung on quite well to PUMA. As we have seen before we are also slightly quicker than Camper at tight jib reaching angles so we are currently ahead of them by a few miles. I think this leg is going to be in 3 distinct phases. First we have about 650 miles of power reaching of which we have already covered 400 miles.

Next we will have a light air upwind section as we skirt the Azores high pressure and tack to round San Miguel. This will be about 200 miles and will take up most of tomorrow and tomorrow night. Finally we will have 1150 miles of windy downwind sailing to the finish on Friday.

The big questions on my mind are how much of a shake up (if any) the light wind section could bring tomorrow and in particular will we be able to fend off CAMPER through this upwind stage, but perhaps more importantly, how windy will the last few days get and what opportunities could that present? Which teams will try to sail the fastest route that negotiates gale force winds in the north and which ones will opt for a more conservative approach further south? Will the leg be won in stage 1,2 or 3 above? Either way our task remains the same which is to sail as fast as possible for now and see what opportunities open up.

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