Volvo Ocean Race: blasting across the trades

Big run for Puma elevates Ken Read's team to second place

Wednesday February 29th 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 0702 UTC:

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon Spd Crs 24hrs DTF DTL
1 Groupama Franck Cammas 13 50.020n 155 48.030e 22.6 154 505 3232.6  
2 Puma Ken Read 15 17.570n 155 43.870e 22.8 159 517.4 3316.6 84
3 Telefonica Iker Martinez 13 51.670n 151 32.330e 20.2 155 489.3 3324.9 92.3
4 Camper Chris Nicholson 14 37.180n 153 02.770e 17.6 161 429.6 3333.3 100.7
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 15 29.980n 154 32.270e 22.2 156 514.9 3351.5 118.9
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 15 08.730n 152 15.800e 21 151 452.8 3379.6 147

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet continues to make big mileage in the trades, the boats continuing to turn slowly south. Yesterday morning the boats were heading on 130-140° whereas today their courses are more 150-160°. This is due to wind veering into the ENE - whereas 24 hours ago it was NNE or northeast - as the boats sail deeper into the trades.

With the boats power reaching they have been eating up the miles and as expected the powerful Juan K designs have scored highest with Puma covering the most miles in the last 24 hours - 517 miles with the Farr-designed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing also in the mix covering 515 miles with Camper having the most disappointing performance in the fast conditions covering just 429 miles. However as Hamish Hooper reports this was mainly due to their exploding J2. The fastest boats still some way off the fastest monohull 24 hour record - currently held by Ericsson 4 in the last race, when they covered 596.6 miles in a day.

As a result the leaderboard has been rejigged over the last 24 hours, with Puma moving up to second from fifth while Camper has dropped from second to fourth and Groupama losing around 20 miles of her lead.

The forecast indicates the Doldrums moving south over the next 24 hours and so Groupama should have around 700 miles of good trade winds sailing, before the wind drops off and they enter the Doldrums, just north of the equator. Unfortunately with an area of high pressure developing off Australia's Gold Coast later in the week, it looks like once through the Doldrums, the boats may once again find themselves on the wind.

“This about as good as it gets,” reported Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing navigator Jules Salter. “Soak it in and rest up fellas and it won’t be like this forever and it looks like it will be a tight finish with more upwind."

From on board Camper MCM Hamish Hooper wrote: "Last night was one of those nights where the Volvo 70 turns into a boat possessed and unleashes across the ocean. We were averaging over 20 knots of boat speed, there were constant blasts of white water over the decks strong enough to knock you down. It makes it hard to stay in your bunk as it lurches from side to side, back and forth in no particular pattern.

"You can tell the guys on deck love it- these conditions are tough- real tough, but they are what they love. It is real adrenaline sailing. Then it gets dark and nothing changes, it’s just adrenaline sailing blind.

"Regrettably as always in conditions like these the dreaded water torture drop returned above my bunk, no matter where I placed my head, it would always land in either my eye or the middle of my forehead. There was also a constant drop onto my feet- I guess it evens it out.

"Perhaps the cruellest bit of torture was still to come.

"Not long after I had hopped into the bunk there was a loud bang, the boat suddenly flattened out and all went quiet for a few seconds before a frenzy of action on deck ensued. The tack rope broke on the jib broke and caused our J2 to explode into two large pieces.

"This leads me to my quiz question of the day: “How big is the Camper J2 when it is in one piece?”

"All of the guys on board are pretty amazing, where most people would curse, ask why and descend into short term depressive anger, they just seem to take the knock on the chin, accept it and move on as best as they possibly can with what they have to work with.

"Within minutes the J2 was bagged, the smaller J4 in the air and Daryl and Salty were already well stuck into the probably 12-hour straight repair work.

"This is hurting us though, the sail we should have up in these conditions is the J2 not the J4 so we are bleeding precious miles to the fleet in every sked. We just have to hang tough and try to minimise any loses as best we can until the boys have the sail repaired again.

"It’s not pleasant downstairs at all this morning, its hot, everything is wet, the entire sail is taking up all of downstairs, the air is thick with acetone ad spray glue on top of the existing body stench, and the violent lurching of the boat just adds to it all.

"I was going for a full clothes change out today but it looks like I might be best to just fester for a couple more days when things settle down a bit.

"Let’s hope the events of today only happen once every four years like today the 29th of February does."

   

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