Slight turn to the right

Possible records set to fall later this week in the Volvo Ocean Race

Monday November 21st 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and PredictWind.

The elastic has been contracting over the last 24 hours as the VO70s have continued to make fast miles south, often sailing at more than 20 knots. The lead three are now south of the latitude of Rio de Janeiro and, according to the official numbers, Puma is back to being 13 miles astern of race leader Telefonica, while Camper and Groupama have closed to 113 and 364 astern of the Spanish VO70, compared to 168 and 434 at the same time yesterday. We are not entirely sure how this has come to be given that Telefonica has sailed the most miles over the last 24 hours - around 450 miles.

Having now passed to the east of the small depression so the boats have turned their bows south. The reason for this seems to be a change in how the high, currently centred 820 miles to the southwest of Telefonica, is forecast to move over the next 72 hours. Yesterday morning the forecast indicated that the high was going to move further east than the latest forecast appears it will. Come tomorrow morning the race leaders should be due west of the high's centre and, obviously the vital question is the toss up over how close to close shave the high. Further east means less miles to sail but in less wind, while going further west means more wind, but more miles. Fortunately this is why God invented routing software, although this won't make up for any inaccuracy in the GRIB files the routing is based on.

Tomorrow night the boats will be able to turn west again as not only will they be southwest of the high but over the course of tomorrow the high starts moving ESE, encouraged along by the onset of a Southern Ocean depression and the front associated with it. This is typically the part of the course where 24 hour records are broken and if Ericsson 4's present distance of 596.6nm, set during the last fully crewed round the world race, is to fall then we reckon Thursday could be the day for this to happen in the strong northwesterlies and relatively flat water preceeding the front.

What will be concerning the Groupama crew bringing up the rear is getting south fast enough to avoid being trapped by the remnants of the high as its tail end is sucked around to join up with a new area of high pressure developing off the coast of South America tomorrow and forecast to move east over the course of this week. At present it looks like Cammas' team will squeak through before the door closes. 




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