Volvo Ocean Race: Left hand turn

Massive compression as Telefonica drops from first to fifth

Wednesday March 21st 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Volvo Ocean Race charts courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems

Positions at 1017 UTC:

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon Spd Crs DTF DTL
1 Groupama Franck Cammas 45 07.520s 169 42.320w 12 98 5965.6  
2 Puma Ken Read 45 07.180s 169 47.800w 11.5 102 5969.4 3.8
3 Sanya Mike Sanderson 45 06.020s 169 49.080w 11.5 98 5970.6 5
4 Camper Chris Nicholson 45 22.130s 170 03.580w 11.2 100 5974.7 9.1
5 Telefonica Iker Martinez 45 22.080s 170 06.480w 11.1 131 5976.7 11.1
6 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 40 51.880s 175 03.480w 16 135 6271.5 305.9

There's an element of waiting to catch the Southern Ocean express train at present for the Volvo Ocean Race crews.

The last 24 hours has seen a dramatic reversal of fortunes with long term leader Telefonica fully nailed late yesterday afternoon as she was first to get caught by the high allowing the other boats behind her, to the east and west, to catch up in the mutual dive south.

As the high has shrunk away to the northeast, so in the early hours of this morning the wind died. This resulted, at around 0330 this morning, in a virtual raft up between the top four, with even Sanya catching up, leaving just six miles between first and fourth. The wind has since filled in from the northwest and with this the boats have been able to make a sharp turn to port.

Meanwhile Camper has been trying a 'buffalo girls' move to the southwest of the leaders but so far this has not really worked - she doesn't appear to have benefitted from any more pressure or better wind angle despite being further from the centre of the high. However there may be something in their tactic as Telefonica this morning took a hitch south to fall in behind the Kiwi crewed Spanish boat, a move that caused her to fall to fifth place, albeit just 11 miles off the lead.

At the latest sched boat speeds are back up to double figures and look set to build - particularly if the leaders can key into the strong westerly flow to their south - this looks like it could be more of a possibility for Camper and Telefonica. If they can achieve this it could be make or break move, for the alternative is that they will be caught in a ridge forming acoss the race course tomorrow afternoon. 

Meanwhile Ian Walker and the crew on Abu Dhabi are continuing to play catch up (see Ian's latest blog here). They have taken more than 100 miles out of their deficit over the leaders in the last 24 hours. With the high moving northeast it looks like they will be able to take a more direct route to the first significant ice waypoint gate the boats must observe at 49°S 150°W.

“The high will start to move north-east so hopefully we won’t have to go as far south to get round the bottom corner of it,” Walker reported. “It’s disappointing. For the last 10 hours or so we have been stuck in light winds ourselves otherwise we could have made quite significant inroads to the fleet.

“We’ve only done 400 nm and it’s slow going by any stretch of the imagination, but we are looking forward to a bit more breeze and hopefully start to narrow down the fleet in the next day or so,” Walker added.

In the light conditions so the teams have had an opportunity to lick their wounds following the severe testing they recented over the first two days of this leg.

According to skipper Chris Nicholson, Camper falling off a wave caused the fracture to the bulkhead up forward. According to Nicholson this is not a vital piece of structure, but they need to keep it in one piece as it adds support to the longitudinal frames.

“With the conditions that we had, I would be very surprised if these types of problems weren’t common place among the fleet,” Nicholson said.

Andres Soriano reports from Team Sanya:

There are probably more then a few of you that are wondering why you haven’t heard from The Sanya Lan and I’m sure there are a few of you, Mom, who are quite possibly a bit worried, so I hope you read this and that it puts your minds slightly at ease.

Since we left New Zealand it has been pretty full on onboard, and so far we have had one incredible act of seamanship keep us on the racecourse and another one currently ongoing.

Sometime during the first night, due to heavy slamming, our water maker pump failed. This is obviously a big issue, and quite possibly a race suspending one, as we make more then 50L of water a day for food, and water.

Richard Mason, boat/watch captain, was able to replace the pump with our spare, and we began making more water. Simple right?

If only, we were making good water for one cycle, which nearly filled, up our 25L day tank, when water was found to be leaking quite heavily out of the main high pressure cylinder where the process of reverse osmosis happens in order to make salty sea water into drinkable water.

Richard noticed a crack at the end of the cylinder which he concluded was caused from the cylinder breaking free of its mount during one of many slams that the boat had taken.

This was no doubt a serious problem but Rich got to work with on the only solution he could come up with. “Never give up,” he said, quoting Winston Churchill. He cut some carbon plate and proceeded to make a cover that would seal the crack. With some very strong glue, and a few screws he managed to seal the crack. We all held our breaths as we switched on the water maker.

The pressure held, but there was still a slight leak so further ingenuity was needed. “Hey mate, are you too young to have seen MacGyver?” Richard asked me, I responded with a laugh and informed him that I used to love that show as a kid. I though they should make a show on Richard’s seamanship alone, if you could take one person to go to sea with, there would be no discussion, you would want Richard on your team.

After a little further jigging, we are making water, the process is taking a bit longer then it should but it’s working. Everyone is pretty relieved to say the least, and now Rich can get some well-deserved rest.

As for the ongoing task at hand, obviously there has been a lack of communications on board, this is due to the fact that also during the first night of slamming, both our satellite domes went offline This means that no media can come off the boat, but more importantly this also means that we cannot receive any weather data, which we kind of need, when sailing into the southern ocean.

Aksel and Mike have unbolted the big dome off the back of the boat, and it is strapped down bellow sitting right next to me actually, probably happy to be out of the cold, wet and bouncy environment that is, outside. Aksel and Moose have had the dome apart to check for any mechanical issues, and have found that the connector is faulty and are working to make a makeshift connector and cable out of the parts that we have from both the big and small domes. They are confident that they have a solution and will be working though the night to try and get it all up and running asap.

So for now, I am sending this though our ‘easy mail’ system on the boat, which is a text only basic system that happens to be our only form of communication at the moment.

I wanted to leave you knowing that spirits are up, we will never give up, and we are still pushing, because we know that success ultimately comes to those who face adversity head on.

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