Ready to rock

The leading boats in the Volvo fleet are getting a sniff of the big breeze to come

Wednesday January 30th 2002, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: United Kingdom
Volvo Ocean Race Position Report, 30 January, 0359 GMT
1 TSEB 6076 150 9.3 239 0 0
2 AART 6077 152 9.5 240 1 0
3 NEWS 6077 151 9.3 237 1 0
4 AONE 6077 153 9.4 236 1 0
5 ILBK 6078 153 9.3 234 2 1
6 TYCO 6080 156 9.2 234 4 2
7 DJCE 6083 152 9.8 237 7 -3
8 ATOO 6101 154 9.2 237 25 2

For once, the official position reports provide very little information on the true status of the race. The computer model that calculates the positions uses distance to the finish based on an arbitrary optimal route to determine who is leading. Right now the arbitrary route has diverged so far from the course that the fleet is actually sailing as to be worthless.

To really see what is going on you need a chart. And this is what it shows. The big breeze that will ultimately propel the fleet to Cape Horn is well south of them. A long ridge of high pressure with its associated light winds lies to the east - in the direction of Cape Horn. The wind right now is west of north and expected to back still further for the next day or so.

For the time being at least the tactical options are limited. Sailing east may be the shortest distance, but it looks like suicide as light winds block the way. The alternative is to go south and this is what the fleet has done. "Course is irrelevant," says Mark Christensen from illbruck. "The first boat south will take the lead."

To the surprise of no one, Grant Dalton on Amer Sports One is furthest south and all things being equal should be able to extend his lead as the wind picks up from in front. Don't neglect djuice though. Though the official results put them seventh and seven miles behind, they are the furthest west and well positioned to take advantage of slightly more wind further from the centre of the high pressure system.

With the exception of Amer Sports Too, everyone has now gybed onto starboard and are sailing a course almost at right angles to the direction of the next mark - Cape Horn. The big decision will come in around 24 hours time when the wind is forecast to swing to the northeast. When do you gybe and go for it?

Fancy spending eight hours in every 24 like this for the next three weeks?
The Amer Sports One crew will

Page two... The navigator's view and problems for
Amer Sports Too
Page three.... e-mail from Grant Dalton

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