Volvo Ocean Race: Struggling past Rio

VO70s down to sub-5 knot speeds as an area of high pressure catches them. Plus Ian Walker gets a black eye...

Tuesday April 24th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Volvo Ocean Race charts courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (European model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0655 UTC:

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon SoG CoG DTF DTL
1 Camper Chris Nicholson 23 17.950s 041 45.930w 4.1 38 4371.7 0
2 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 23 20.570s 041 45.230w 4.3 50 4374 2.2
3 Puma Ken Read 23 45.120s 041 01.770w 4 55 4381.6 9.9
4 Telefonica Iker Martinez 24 04.180s 041 06.130w 3.5 47 4400.9 29.2
5 Groupama Franck Cammas 24 06.380s 041 15.830w 3.1 40 4406.1 34.4

Progress has slowed dramatically in the Volvo Ocean Race as a zone of high pressure envelopes the fleet causing boat speeds to drop below 5 knots.

Yesterday afternoon the fleet effectively divided in two with Camper and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing heading north, with Groupama and Telefonica remaining south with Puma holding the middle ground, attempting to cover both bases. At the latest sched almost 60 miles now separates Camper from Telefonica on the water.

Aside from the high encroaching over them from the west, at present the weak cold front is still the significant feature on the race course which at present is some 300 miles up the race course for the boats (with southeasterlies to the south of it and northwesterlies to its north). So the upshot of this is that the boats look set to have a light day before light southeasterlies fill in this evening. At present it isn't clear whether the southerly or northerly option will be the favoured. The advantage of being north is that Camper and Abu Dhabi are closer to the coast where they may be able to pick up some beneficial local effects and they are sailing a shorter course.

Camper has spent the night dodging road blocks of another kind, when after dark they came across an oil research vessel towing 14 8,000 metre cables behind it. Two guard ships escorted the towing vessel and the entourage motored directly across the Kiwi boat's bow, requiring them to alter course. Skipper Chris Nicholson reckons the diversion cost them five miles on Puma, Telefónica and Groupama.

Ian Walker writes from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: It’s been a long night with very little wind. When it is like this the position reports are very anxiously awaited as you know that if the other boats have wind you are doomed! Fortunately everyone has been light and we are still no closer to knowing whether the inshore route taken by ourselves and Camper will pay dividends or not.

We are just passing Cabo Frio another one of the great landmark Cape’s of this race. We expect the wind to build today and we can all start making good progress up the coast. Life onboard is pretty easy although the daytime heat is building – the only drama being when a bunk lashing let go dropping 110kg of bowman (Bubs) directly on to my head. Quite a wake-up call and I have a nice black eye to show for it.

MCM Nick Dana adds: It was a bit of a tough night for us on board Azzam. We have been matching Camper over the last day now in slowly

lightening conditions while the rest of the fleet continue to sail North East several miles below our line. While we were

confident that our more northerly route would take us comfortable past Cabo Frio and into the trades, an unexpected

course change has now landed us a bit tighter to land and in less wind.

Just before dark last night, a large research vessel dragging nearly 5 miles of seismic cables crossed ahead of both

Camper and us. We were quickly hailed by the ship’s captain and asked to divert our course immediately North until we

were crossing safely behind. Sadly, all the hard work to keep the boat lifted and fast over the previous 12 hours was lost

in a matter of minutes. Furthermore we suffered a few bad scheds to the boats to the South and currently are sat in less

than 5 knots of breeze trading gybes with Camper.

“It was a very frustrating decision for us. For a moment it looked as if we might be able to pass in front of the research

vessel while Camper would have to duck – but no such luck. That’s ocean racing for you.” Jules Salter. “It was definitely

a tough pill to swallow at first, but it’s a long race and these things happen.” Simon Fisher. “Luckily it looks like the rest

of the fleet is lightening up as well, so we didn’t suffer to badly in our course change. Again, just pleased to be tight

racing with the fleet again - so I’m happy.” Wade Morgan

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