Amory Ross / Puma Ocean Racing

Into the Stealth zone

As the Volvo Ocean Race afterguard trying out different strategies to cross the Doldrums in the Volvo Ocean Race

Friday December 23rd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

A little bit hard to write about the Volvo Ocean Race this morning, since all of the boats have passed into the stealth zone and we won't know their positions from now on until they reach the mystery finish port. Leader Franck Cammas' Groupama 4 passing into the stealth zone at around 1100 UTC yesterday and she has since been followed by the four other boats racing. However with the boats lining up for their Doldrums crossings so there seems to be some differing views with Telefonica and Camper taking a route through the Doldrums substantially further east than their rivals.

All we do know is that at the latest sched Groupama's 85 mile lead has dwindled to now just 25 miles over Telefonica, which had moved up to second, with another 12 mile back to Camper and Puma having dropped from second to fourth, 71 miles off the French VO70, having followed a similar westerly course to her, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 117 miles off pole.

Telefonica skipper Iker Martínez warned yesterday that “the winds are going to be very unstable and we have to get through the Doldrums which, in this case are sitting much further south than the Equator, although they are there because of the change in hemisphere. We need to get through this complicated zone, the transition, so now we need to decide how we take it on.

“I'm happy. Everything is going well. The boat is really doing well and the guys are working really well on the boat. We are all happy. Now we have to make the right call on where to go and to try to do better than the next guy. It's all about hitting the target and going for the right routing.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker reported: "Not too much to report out here right now as we plough on northeast at about 18 knots. I have just got off the wheel and it is great fun on deck – 17 knots of trade wind, nice waves to catch, 29° water temperature and clear skies. It is not such good fun down below. The whole boat smells of wet dog inside. Our one can of air freshener is on its last legs so we are looking forward to the doldrums when the wind will drop and we can get some air through the boat. 3 things are on the crew's minds right now. First and foremost we are desperate for the leaders to slow up so we can close into the back of them – may the doldrums be wide and slow! Secondly it is 3 days to Christmas and it is sad to think of missing a precious Christmas with our kids – you only get so many with your kids and we will have one fewer now. Thirdly the Equator is less than 1000 miles away and King Neptune's presence will soon be required to allow Adil, Wade and Nick to pass. I hope for their sakes we gain some miles by then or he could be very angry!"


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