Volvo Ocean Race: Telefonica poised in the north

Camper descends on to Puma's line as the boats now have under 500 miles to go to round the top of Sumatra

Wednesday January 25th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and high res GRIB from PredictWind

Positions at 1002 UTC

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon SoG CoG DT mark DTL
1 Puma Ken Read 04 05.870n 087 34.000e 10.5 78 476.39 0
2 Camper Chris Nicholson 04 08.630n 087 30.230e 10.2 79 479.42 3.03
3 Groupama Franck Cammas 04 06.300n 087 27.580e 10.3 80 482.53 6.13
4 Telefonica Iker Martinez 04 19.870n 087 20.520e 12.8 80 486.51 10.11
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 03 56.650n 087 15.730e 9.3 80 496.28 19.89
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 03 52.300n 087 10.830e 10.1 78 502.09 25.69

With the wind slowly softening, so speeds have dropped slightly for the six Volvo 70s, which continue to head east towards the top of Sumatra, now some 476 miles away for race leader Puma. Since yesterday second placed Camper has cracked off slightly to come down on to the same line as Puma and Groupama, but interestingly this hasn't in fact had any effect on her position - she is still second, still 3 miles behind Puma. However this does leave overall race leader Telefonica on her own to the north, her track now some 13 miles to the north of Camper. Meanwhile the Ian Walker-skippered Abu Dhabi has lost almost 10 miles on Puma in the last 24 hours.

“This is really going to be a game of inches,” said Camper navigator, Will Oxley.

While on Telefonica Neal McDonald commented: “I think getting around the top of Sumatra and into the Malacca Strait is going to be a very tricky moment for the race and I think there will be some places to gain and lose there. We seem to be going very well other than that setback which was a disaster really that the guys recovered well from. It cost us a lot and it put us on the back foot really."

Conditions on board are at present stifling, both on deck and below. Sleep is near to impossible in the sauna created not only by the scorching sun, but also by the generator used to create power on board, usually run at night when it is marginally cooler. 

Ahead conditions still look very soft. It should be remembered that at 4°N, the boats are effectively sailing east along the Doldrums, something that would be unimaginable in the Atlantic. At present the wind is into the NNE, so sheets have been cracked but the wind strength has dropped. The forecast has the wind veering back into the northeast this evening and dropping, the wind radar satellite images showing an ominous Doldrums-like area to the east of 90°E extending north to almost 6°N. This is why Telefonica's northerly berth could pay dividends over the next 48 hours. The last miles to the top of Sumatra will either be in no wind or directly upwind in light conditions - no exactly what VO70s are built for.


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