Volvo Ocean Race: Leaders halted by the Doldrums
Positions at 0655 UTC:
|1||Puma||Ken Read||03 36.130n||046 33.250w||3.7||308||2368.5||0|
|2||Camper||Chris Nicholson||03 28.530n||046 31.570w||3.4||306||2374.7||6.2|
|3||Telefonica||Iker Martinez||03 17.620n||046 39.550w||4.6||307||2375.7||7.2|
|4||Abu Dhabi||Ian Walker||02 34.830n||045 36.530w||11.1||301||2451.2||82.7|
|5||Groupama||Franck Cammas||02 28.130n||045 16.620w||13||331||2470.7||102.2|
While the Volvo Ocean Race leaders broke through into the northeasterlies as they crossed the Equator yesterday morning and were making fast progress beam reaching northwest, in the early hours of this morning they have hit a brick wall as they pass the northernmost part of the Brazilian coastline.
The leaders have encountered giant clouds typical of the Doldrums and this has caused a major compression at the front of the fleet. The boat on boat match race for second place between Telefónica and Camper came to a close with the Spanish boat taking up a position 14 miles to leeward (southwest). As a result early yesterday evening Camper regained second place. But the major change that Puma's lead that topped out at just over 30 miles at around 1400 yesterday to just 6.2 miles at the latest sched, all of the lead trio currently making less than 5 knots.
The crew of Puma tried every sail they had on board to keep moving. One squall brought Camper and Telefónica within sight, while the US boat lay becalmed with only the mainsail hoisted with the keel canted to one side to prevent the boom from sweeping uncontrollably across the deck.
As Puma's Amory Ross reported: “We still hate clouds. We hate them – even the pretty ones. They ruin our days and plague our nights and they’ve just done it again. One massive, unavoidable green glob on the radar and an ominously dark splotch on the horizon indicate imminent doom. Nothing can prepare you for the gut-wrenching conclusion once its run its course and stolen your wind, hopes and in this case, your hard-fought lead.”
However the biggest losses over the last 24 hours have been those of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 67 miles off the pace yesterday morning, this had doubled by 0300 this morning, although, showing to degree to which the leaders have stopped in the last few hours, they have since pulled back to 82 miles - a gain of 45 miles on Puma in three hours...
The only good news to come from this has been for Groupama. Her deficit on the leader increased to around 150 miles yesterday evening but over this mornin she has regained almost 50 miles.
The satellite wind radar image from last night indicates that the boats should be out of the worst of this Doldrums area imminently (ie by around 4°N) with the conditions more stable on the southwest side of where the boats are (ie on Telefonica's side).