Volvo Ocean Race: Very difficult night

Puma extend as they are first to reach and first to exit the dying front

Thursday April 26th 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 Long Spd Crs DTF DTL
1 Puma Ken Read 17 21.620s 035 20.080w 11.7 18 3948.4 0
2 Camper Chris Nicholson 17 34.120s 035 39.780w 11.2 66 3965.9 17.4
3 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 17 37.350s 035 50.170w 10.8 64 3968.2 19.8
4 Telefonica Iker Martinez 17 58.520s 035 19.900w 10.3 56 3987.1 38.7
5 Groupama Franck Cammas 18 17.170s 035 18.450w 11.7 53 4004.4 56

The Volvo Ocean Race boats hit a meteorological brick wall yesterday afternoon off the coast of Brazil as they encountered the dying occlued front.

Puma was the first to run out of wind early afternoon allowing Camper and Abu Dhabi Ocean Race to overhaul her. With the collapsing front orientated over a NW-SE axis, so all the boats by this stage had turned on a northeasterly course to cross this awkward zone covering the least distance. At around 1600 UTC Puma tacked to the northeast and managed to find the breeze as the boats either side of her floundered. As a result Puma regained the lead early in the evening and by 2300 she had extended her lead to 19 miles. Camper, Abu Dhabi and, to the southeast, Telefonica picked up speed at around 2300, followed by Groupama just over an hour later.

Satellite wind radar image from yesterday showing the windless zone

With the wind filling in from the north (ie not what is shown on the chart above), so over the early hours of this morning the boats have ended up heading almost due east, but as the wind has been oscillating between NNE and NNW, so the boats have been tacking on these shifts. Puma was first to tack north, back on course at around 0230. However they bailed at 0430 and just before the latest sched Abu Dhabi, Camper and Telefonica had all tacked north.

The Brazilian synoptic chart is indicating that the occluded front has now subsided, the cold front associated with the depression in the Southern Ocean having moved offshore. So it would seem that at some point today the boats will see the trade winds fill in from the north east.

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