Long starboard tack north
Obviously the big news of the morning is that race leader, the Mike Sanderson-skippered Sanya is having to pull in to Madagascar in order to repair some broken rigging.
Telefonica, Puma and Camper managed finally to break through the pesky trough yesterday morning and in the process put some miles on the Ian Walker-skippered Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, which being further to the south didn't successfully break through until mid-afternoon. But significant tactically was how far east into the high the boats sailed before they tacked north. Camper and Telefonica made their move at 1700 yesterday, whereas Puma left it for another hour, setting themselves up some 40 miles to the east of the other two. Abu Dhabi didn't tack north until 2030 UTC last night. In their present trek NNW, Abu Dhabi is now some 85 miles astern of her rivals, although below Ian Walker doesn't discuss how their deficit came to pass.
Meanwhile Groupama, who made their bold flier to the south late last week, is just ahead of Abu Dhabi in terms of her progress NNW, however she suffered yesterday due sailing in less wind, closer to the centre of the high to their south, although over the course of this morning (UTC) her boat speed has been up with that of Camper, Telefonica and Puma. Also by being some 135 miles east she has weather gauge on these three, although at present she is sailing much the same course as they are.
In terms of the weather over the 24 hours the high to their south consolidates and its centre shifts some 350 miles to the northeast, although this doesn't appear to have much effect on the wind conditions the boats will experience. With a depression still located to the south of Madagascar this is likely to see the trio slightly headed but in more pressure (25-30 knots) than Groupama. Over the course of Tuesday the boats should all be making good speed as they continue NNW away from the high, in 20-25 knots of wind. Longer term the easterly winds look set to take the boats all the way north to the Indian Ocean doldrums, which at present seem to be centred around 9°S.
Yesterday Ian Walker wrote from Abu Dhabi:
Finally we are pointing north. We have been knocking on the exit door of this front for the past few days, and have now managed to squeeze through. Amazing that we have been at sea now for just over a week and we are not far above the latitude from which we started on in Cape Town. However from what I gather, the trades in the Indian Ocean are quite elusive this time of year, and are often offset by cyclones.
Though we have seen none of this current cyclone yet, we should be entering the first wind fields during the early hours of the morning. Looks as if the northerlies will keep us busy for the next two plus days pounding up wind, before the trades pick us up and we can crack sheets again.
“Honestly it doesn’t matter what direction the wind comes from at this point – just as long as there is wind,” Jutty (Justin Slattery) announced on deck this morning. Everyone chuckled and agreed, the past few days had become quite difficult to stay motivated. Especially when the fleet was starting to spread more and more, and other teams were doubling our own scheds in completely different weather systems. Nevertheless we pushed through, discovered some new culinary delights, got some rest, and are ready for the upwind trek.
Bub’s repair on the dagger board up/down shiv seems to have done the trick. Although we did have him convinced for a little bit that his resin mix ratio was off and the carbon laminate was still soft hours after it should have gone off. The rest of Azzam is holding together nicely (knock on wood).
Yesterday’s sunny flat spell of wind allowed everyone to get there kit on deck and have a bit of a dry out. Judging by the mank off a few of our shirts and pants, we are on par to discover new life forms in them within a week’s time. So we better hit a rain cloud soon. Heaps of albatross spotting yesterday as well! Royal Albatross to be exact.