Volvo Ocean Race: Camper into the lead

Overnight the fleet has turned north

Thursday January 26th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

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

Positions at 0700 UTC

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon SoG CoG DT mark DTL
1 Camper Chris Nicholson 05 35.650n 090 00.130e 11.4 49 318.58 0
2 Groupama Franck Cammas 05 52.030n 089 51.250e 11.8 32 326.82 8.24
3 Puma Ken Read 05 57.130n 089 50.050e 11.5 22 328 9.42
4 Telefonica Iker Martinez 06 17.500n 089 44.150e 12.2 15 334.59 16.01
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 05 29.080n 089 33.850e 12 12 345.13 26.55
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 05 14.650n 089 33.280e 11.2 29 347.1 28.52

The Volvo Ocean Race boats have neatly sidestepped an area of light winds as they head for the northern tip of Sumatra. Last night at 2000 UTC race leader Ken Read's Puma was the first to put a short hitch in to the north, but tacked back having taken up a berth to the north of Camper. They were followed Telefonica at around 2100, already the most northerly boat and then, soon after, Groupama and Puma followed with Camper leaving it a little longer, a move that left them furthest east and moving them into first place. To the south, Abu Dhabi and Sanya didn't tack north until 2300.

Overnight the fleet has continued north, their course turning slowly east as the wind veers. However shortly before 0600 this morning Camper was the first to tack back to the east. As a result of this she has managed to extend her lead to 8 miles. Since then the rest of the boats have tacked back to the east with only Abu Dhabi and Telefonica continuing north. With the forecast showing the wind heading the easterly port tackers later today we're not convinced any of the boats apart from Telefonica can lay the Palau We island, the mark of the course to the north of Sumatra, at present. However after the drag racing east of the last few days, this is a significant tactical moment of the leg that will determine the leader into Malacca Strait.

Yesterday veteran navigator Andrew Cape on Telefonica explained their strategy: "We chose the northern option because we thought it was the right thing to do. It caused a lot of initial pain, but obviously two days down the road it’s paying back. We'll have to see if it all works out. We’ve taken the tack now, over the next 24 hours it’s going to go light, so when the other boats tack and have to head up towards the top of Sumatra there that’s where we’re looking to make some gains. A mile or two every sked would be great.

"The breeze will change a lot by the time we’re there. Being a tricky zone anyway, we’ll just be observing where the wind is, and where to go. But there are other obstacles there that will be critical like fishing boats and mud banks, it’s not a pleasant place to sail so you just have to be alert. 

"The top of Sumatra itself will be very interesting, a lot could happen there. I’ve only raced there once, just once is an analogue situation, so all I know is it’s a chaotic situation and you have to look at the situation once you’re there."

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