Volvo Ocean Race: Malacca Strait lottery

Puma and Groupama back in contact with Telefonica

Sunday January 29th 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:

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Long SoG CoG DTF DTL
1 Telefonica Iker Martinez 02 53.880n 101 04.300e 7 82 1302.8  
2 Groupama Franck Cammas 02 54.100n 101 03.930e 7.5 80 1303.3 0.5
3 Puma Ken Read 02 53.800n 101 03.050e 7.2 81 1303.9 1.1
4 Camper Chris Nicholson 03 27.670n 100 50.720e 16.2 154 1330.3 27.5
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 03 29.450n 100 50.670e 15.8 153 1331.3 28.5
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 03 48.820n 099 03.480e 11 186 1435.3 132.5

So much for leading into Malacca Strait...Overnight the Volvo Ocean Race teams have been varying in their tactics, with Telefonica taking the middle ground down the strait as Puma, Groupama and Camper chose to continue on towards the Malaysian (eastern) shore. But as Puma and Groupama chose to tack back into the centre of the straight, Camper held her course and ran into a wind hole forcing her to kedge. This allowed Ian Walker's fifth placed team on Abu Dhabi to come back into them.

“There is a lot of rolling the dice going on out here, with everybody hedging their bets,” said Nicholson. "Time will tell."

Earlier Ian Walker was debating his choice of heading into the Malaysian coast as he lay becalmed with Camper. "The net loss to us could be as much as 50 miles and certainly leaves us praying for a ‘park-up’ somewhere further down the Strait.”

Meanwhile Puma and Groupama were able to continue on down the Strait on a lift, allowing them to close on Telefonica.

In the early hours of this morning, Telefonica tacked to cover Puma and Groupama but with the wind going light and shifty, so the two chasing boats were able to catch right up with the Spanish race leader and at the latest sched the three boats are back to being within sight of each other as they attempt to make ground down the strait. Meanwhile now 27 miles astern of the leader, with the wind returned Camper is still attempting to fend off the challenge from Abu Dhabi, now just a mile astern of her, although both boats are sailing at more than twice the speed of the leaders and look set to close the gap on this group. Bringing up the rear, Sanya's tactics of keeping to the Sumatran coast seem not to have paid and she has dropped back to 132 miles off the lead.

Sanya's course brought them in to close contact with a massive car transporter ship, which was approaching on a collision course at around 18 knots. The team had right of way, but the ship did not show any sign of slowing or altering course. Navigator Aksel Magdahl made radio contact requesting the captain to slow down or pass across Sanya’s stern, as gybing away would entail sailing Sanya straight into a windless cloud. After some polite negotiation, the ship passed clear ahead after speeding up and Sanya avoided gybing and were able to stay in constant pressure.

For the race leaders matters are complicated, by their having having to keep mark M1 to starboard, which they achieved earlier this morning. Soon the leaders will be into the narrowest part of the Strait, where at its slenderest it is 18 miles across.

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