Positions at 0702 UTC
|1||Puma||Ken Read||03 16.870n||082 30.180e||12.2||79||783||0|
|2||Camper||Chris Nicholson||03 28.850n||082 26.230e||11.9||79||784.4||1.4|
|3||Groupama||Franck Cammas||03 17.030n||082 27.380e||12.4||80||785.6||2.6|
|4||Abu Dhabi||Ian Walker||03 12.770n||082 20.380e||11.5||78||793.4||10.4|
|5||Sanya||Mike Sanderson||03 13.780n||082 13.920e||11.2||79||799.48||16.48|
|6||Telefonica||Iker Martinez||03 25.880n||082 11.300e||11.7||81||799.62||16.62|
The Volvo Ocean Race boats continue to drag race east towards the northern tip of Sumatra, 783 miles away for race leader Puma at the latest sched. The wind remains in the northeast at 15 knots, the boats close hauled on port. While this is effectively a one course track, the GRIB files indicate there to be more breeze on the left (north) side of the track and so over the last 24 hours there been some north-south manoeuvring to make the most of this.
Yesterday afternoon at around 1430 UTC the fleet was headed and Camper took this opportunity to put in a 30 minute long hitch to the northeast, setting themselves up as the northerly boat in the fleet. Half an hour later Sanya followed suit, setting up in Puma's wake and leaving Abu Dhabi as the most southerly boat.
With the southerly group all continuing to err south, Camper seemed able to sail slightly high, her course diverging from the fleet. Shortly after 2000 UTC last night, when Camper was some 10 miles to her north, Telefonica took the opportunity to tack north, dropping her from fourth place back to sixth, a costly move indicating that navigator Andrew Cape really likes the north.
So this morning this leaves Puma on the southerly track, a nose in front of Camper (now 12 miles to her north) but still apparently making better speed than the boats to the north, so perhaps there isn't the wind speed differential north-south across the course that the GRIBs indicate.
The nav teams will still be contemplating the nasty looking forecast ahead. Conditions are forecast to remain similar for the rest of today, but with the wind backing into the north (good) but dropping (bad) in the early hours of tomorrow morning as the boats close on the centre of an area of high pressure centred over northern Sumatra. Tomorrow night is looking particular soft as the centre of the high temporarily shifts west, exactly where the boats want to go. The passage to the entrance to the Malacca Strait looks set to be a long one...
Yesterday Camper skipper Chris Nicholson reported: "Because we’re aiming in the corner, there’s not too many tactical decisions being made. The surprising thing is we’re all pretty similar speeds ,because if you wind the clock back to the sprint leg, there was quite a big, huge difference in speed. But it seems out in the wider ocean where we can manipulate our course a little bit, it all comes back fairly even."
On board Camper, they have been using the opportunity of sailing alongside other boats to tweak their trim to see if they could make any gains. "We’re already locked in with regards to the boat and measurement, so there’s not much we can change there. But what we can change is the daggerboards, the water ballast, the sheeting angles and where we put the sails fore and aft on the boat. We’re actually just subtly changing all of those as the wind speed increases, it’s all the kinds of things you do in a dinghy, only on a larger scale. This requires a fair bit of labour - which we happen to have a bit of - so it’s all worked out a bit nicely. We’re just trying to sail it more like a dinghy every day and push the boat like you’re sailing it around the cans like an in port race.
Nicholson provided an example: "We’ll feel like the daggerboard needs to be lifted so it may be a 200 mm or 300 mm change. We need to adjust things enough to see a difference and then look and work out by looking at the instruments and go by feel whether it’s good or bad. We’re getting better at it as we go, as I’m sure all the teams are. We’ve seen a few weaknesses we’ve had, and we’re just doing the most we can to make sure they don’t remain a weak area."