Volvo Ocean Race: Back up to cruising speed

A return to 20 knot boat speeds as the 70s turn on to course

Tuesday February 28th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Charts courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and high res GRIB (European model) from PredictWind

Positions at 1001 UTC:

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon SoG CoG DTF DTL
1 Groupama Franck Cammas 20 24.670n 151 49.870e 21 132 3681.9  
2 Camper Chris Nicholson 20 25.150n 149 32.480e 18.5 132 3731.5 49.6
3 Telefonica Iker Martinez 20 19.720n 148 00.470e 18.2 137 3761.7 79.8
4 Puma Ken Read 21 54.980n 151 40.850e 22.2 142 3769 87.1
5 Sanya Mike Sanderson 20 51.370n 148 17.400e 18.2 127 3783.9 102
6 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 21 41.770n 150 06.920e 20.8 139 3789.4 107.5

Overnight (UTC), as predicted, the northeasterly wind has filled in for the Volvo Ocean Race boats and all six are now making 20 knot speeds. The new breeze has allowed the boats to turn to the southeast and they now should be on course. We're not sure of the thinking of the navigators, but the theoretical shortest course to Auckland is to the west of the Solomon Islands. However as this route would be to the lee of this remote island group, it appears from the boats' present course that they are lining up instead to pass them on their weather side and it is possible they may try and stay east of Vanuatu too (see below).

The new breeze filled in from the northwest overnight as an area of high pressure centred over Japan moved east. Telefonica was briefly first to benefit from the new breeze yesterday evening and by 2300 they had moved up to third place. But across the fleet of more significance was that yesterday during the day Groupama managed to stay in the stronger breeze for longer and with this managed to pull out a lead of 49 miles. She lost some of this overnight but has since regained it as although the wind strength has evened up across the course, the boats in the east are more lifted.

Groupama MCM Yann Riou reported: “We are now on a reach in around 15 knots on what are quite comfortable seas. There's a blue sky with some small cumulus. In short - if this isn't the trade winds, it sure looks like it. From this evening, the wind is set to head a few degrees, increasing to up to 22 knots. As such we're preparing for a new episode of ‘Life at the extreme’ with some high speeds, torrents of water on deck and so on and so forth. To put it plainly, classic Volvo conditions!”

MCM Hamish Hooper reported from Camper: "At the moment it’s a slight waiting game until all of the fleet are nose down and pointing at New Zealand when the 2,000 mile drag race starts to the Doldrums and a chain of Pacific Islands to penetrate before the last push to paradise. It’s still full throttle down charging along getting every ounce of speed out of Camper to claw back some ground mile by mile.   Groupama has had a tough few skeds being caught further out to the east in lighter wind, which we know all too well about the pain of after recent days. However, we are short of sympathy for our French counterparts. Thanks to that we have managed to take a couple of chunks out of their lead, which gave everyone a momentary additional spring in their step. They are now back up to full speed again, in fact in the latest sked we had the least amount of wind. It sure is swings in roundabouts. But we push on hard."

So from here the boats look set to have at least 1000 miles ahead of them (finally) of solid northeasterly trades. With the change in met situation so the Doldrums have been pushed south and the forecast has them started just north of the Equator.


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