Volvo Ocean Race: Approaching Singapore

Groupama still hanging on to Telefonica as Abu Dhabi jockeys with Camper

Monday January 30th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

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

Positions at 0702:

Pos Boat Column1 Lat Lon SoG CoG DTF DTL
1 Telefonica Iker Martinez 01 17.000n 103 22.150e 8.4 116 1146.6  
2 Groupama Franck Cammas 01 16.020n 103 20.000e 8.8 130 1149.3 2.7
3 Puma Ken Read 01 26.250n 103 15.070e 10.2 128 1152.8 6.2
4 Camper Chris Nicholson 01 35.970n 103 02.500e 10.8 125 1166.2 19.6
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 01 36.020n 103 02.150e 10.4 126 1166.6 20
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 02 55.980n 101 09.730e 6.5 113 1298.8 152.2

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is now into the latter half of the Malacca Strait, separating mainland Malaysia from the Indonesia island of Sumatra with the front runners having spent the morning creeping along and leader Telefonica now just 20 miles from Singapore.

While Malacca Strait narrows to the south, with 10 miles bank to bank as they turn the corner and head east for Singpore, there is also a substantial separation scheme for commercial traffic in the Strait which the fleet must avoid along with numerous fishing boats, plus a series of race marks that the fleet must leave to starboard. As a result the boats are as much racing as they are attempting to avoid the natural hazards along this stretch of water.

The result of the Malacca Strait reshuffle is that Telefonica has managed to hang on to her lead, although Franck Cammas and his team on Groupama have done extremely well to hang on to the Spanish team's coat tails, while Puma is 6 miles off the lead, although the Ken Read-skippered team has done well to pull back from the 17 miles astern they were earlier this morning.

One of the most interesting battles has been taking place for fourth place between Camper and Abu Dhabi. The Emirates Team New Zealand crewed boat is still licking her wounds after she was forced to kedge after erring too close to the Malaysian coast on Friday night and since then she has been engaged in a match race with Abu Dhabi. Walker's team moved into the lead yesterday mid-evening, while at 0530 UTC this morning, Camper clawed her way back past Abu Dhabi. Both crews will be breathing a small sigh of relief that the 50 mile deficit they had on the leaders last night has now been reduced to 20, although there is every possibility of their suffering the same light winds.

Telefonica still has around 60 miles before she reaches open water and then there is around 1000 miles crossing the South China Sea and the south of Vietnam before she reaches the Chinese stopover of Sanya.

Yesterday Ian Walker reported: "If there was one thing we learnt in the last race and that is borne out by theory it is to stay away from the middle of the Malacca Straits (where there is normally no wind and strong adverse currents).

"Sadly having managed to do just that and set ourselves up for the sea breeze on the Malaysian shore today we have had to endure watching Groupama, Puma and Telefonica carry wind right down the middle of the Straits!

"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 Straits. On the positive side we have closed right up to Camper and for the first time in days we have a boat to race against rather than dots on the computer screen.

"Right now we are two miles behind and enjoying their company. The water maker is the most important bit of kit on the boat right now as we are each consuming up 10 litres per day.

"Today onboard it is 38 degrees so sleeping is a bit of a challenge – especially after running the engine to charge the batteries. The only other highlight is that we now have a resident bat onboard. He is hanging to the mainsail reef point catching some sleep in the day – I guess he got blown off the land last night and couldn’t find his way back. I think he likes our black sails and Azzam’s falcon. We will try and deliver him back towards shore tonight."

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