Volvo Ocean Race: Vietnamese boat people

Lumpy ride for the VO70 crews as they continue to battle their way upwind

Thursday February 2nd 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

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

Positions at 1008 UTC:

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon SoG CoG DTF DTL
1 Telefonica Iker Martinez 10 55.430n 108 21.530e 12.1 51 442.27 0
2 Groupama Franck Cammas 10 49.770n 108 10.070e 12.4 48 449.61 7.34
3 Camper Chris Nicholson 10 34.670n 108 03.150e 11.9 54 465.65 23.38
4 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 10 14.700n 107 42.220e 12.7 15 489.19 46.92
5 Puma Ken Read 09 39.750n 108 50.830e 13.3 337 514.46 72.2
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 06 48.320n 107 46.250e 11 352 691.82 249.55

This morning finds the Volvo Ocean Race leaders still bashing their way upwind as they attempt to get along the south side of Vietnam. Telefonica, still hanging in there as leader, has around 80-90 miles to go until she can round the corner and in theory can head directly to the Sanya finish line a further 380 or so miles to the north. 

In terms of the relative positions of the boats, Groupama remains in second place with a similar small deficit on the leader while both Camper and Abu Dhabi have closed in - down from 37 and 72 miles behind yesterday at 0700 to 23 and 46 miles respectively at the latest sched. Puma's flier to the east doesn't appear to have worked and for some reason while they were lining up nicely to come into the Vietnam coast short of the corner, over the last few hours they have cracked off and as a result will lose any potential gains they might have made from their bold easterly option.

It seems that Puma may just be trying to get across this stretch of water as fast as they can. "It’s hot, humid, and extremely violent down below,” Puma's MCM Amory Ross wrote this morning. “The 20 knots (of wind) we have right now are supposed to build, but that’s not the real problem; it’s the god-awful waves causing all the discomfort. They’re big, they’re steep, and they have no backs so we just fall off each one only to find the bottom in a severely sudden crash." Their cause was not helped yesterday but running out of wind when they took their easterly option.

Life on board hasn't been much better for the rest of the fleet. On board Telefónica, MCM Diego Fructuoso described the conditions: "I'm writing from the rollercoaster Telefónica very close to the coast of Vietnam. We have almost 30 knots of wind. Having breakfast without spilling half the milk is Mission Impossible. Sleeping, going to the toilet, etc ... I won't even go into it.”

On board Camper MCM Hamish Hooper warned that in addition to the "hard and tiring slog" there were an abundance of fishing nets to be avoided.

Unfortunately while the boats are beating into 25 knots from the NE-ENE at present as they round the corner to sail up the east side of Vietnam towards the finish line, so the wind is forecast to back into the NNE-NE. So then they will be back to the same situation as they were in yesterday where the course is very starboard tack favoured and so as it is unlikely they will be able to lay Sanya in one the boats will either overstand once they reach the corner and they will be forced to put in a few very costly hitches out to the east as they head north.

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