Volvo Ocean Race: Trail blazing across the Trades

Camper still within 5 miles of the mighty Puma as the boats scream past Barbados

Thursday May 3rd 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 Spd Crs DTF DTL
1 Puma Ken Read 13 33.900n 056 11.230w 19.8 316 1550.6 0
2 Camper Chris Nicholson 13 25.130n 056 11.430w 20 317 1555.4 4.9
3 Telefonica Iker Martinez 13 14.180n 056 02.180w 20 312 1569.1 18.6
4 Groupama Franck Cammas 12 34.070n 054 22.350w 19.9 312 1671.8 121.2
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 11 41.720n 054 32.770w 18.5 318 1694.2 143.6

The three-way battle for first place on leg six of the Volvo Ocean Race continues relentlessly with less than 5 miles separating leader Puma from Camper. One wonders if this is how the race will look in three years time if the event goes one design...

Unexpectedly, overnight it has been Telefonica that has dropped off the pace, now trailing Puma by 18.6 miles (from five 24 hours ago) having fallen in onto Camper's track.

Behind the lead trio, there has been a leader change as Groupama overhauled Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing yesterday mid-afternoon to take fourth place, the French boat leading Ian Walker's team by 12 miles at the latest sched. As the leaders have been sailing in the best pressure for longer, so they have extended over Groupama and Abu Dhabi, both once again back to being more than 100 miles off the pace.

At the latest sched the frontrunners are around 100 miles due east of Barbados still enjoying the trade wind conditions with 20-25 knots from just north of east. Not too much to complain about. While the great circle route to the next turning mark in the Bahamas takes the boats through the Caribbean (to the south of Guadeloupe), are present all of the boats are to weather of the great circle and the present course of the leaders looks like it will keep them to weather of the Caribbean chain. However this seems to be a work in progress as the forecast from tomorrow on keeps changing with an area of high pressure making its presence felt centred over Florida and the Bahamas. For sure the wind will lighten, but not evenly across the course and will possibly veer into the southeast as the boats pass Antigua tomorrow night. We still think we'll see the boats head a bit further west, possibly threading their way through the Caribbean islands as the forecast is still indicating there being more pressure on the left side of the race track, particularly over the weekend as the boats approach the Bahamas.

Hamish Hooper reports from Camper:

Just like that we are back on the crazy wet and wild roller coaster ride. Which is great as we tick off the distance to finish so quickly, but bad because the bucket and sponge have to get a bloody good work out, and of course all of the small leaks and drips start again- just like the water torture one above my bunk…

At times the previous few days and today have been like chalk and cheese.

From easing along in the lightest of breeze, sails flapping in the Doldrums to full throttle down flying along at times in excess of 25 knots.

At one stage while on deck I saw Daryl get the dial up to 29.99 knots- I was disappointed it didn’t click up to 30 for just one second.

I spent an electrifying three hours on deck getting saturated and blasted with water as we hurtled along, however my interest was not in getting an adrenaline thrill ride of the most extreme- but rather Nico had me on the lookout for flying fish, trying to resolve our bet from yesterday. It’s a great bet as we are both convinced each of us is correct.

So, whoever wins the jug of beer from the reputable American sports bar with an owl as a logo will appreciate it immensely.

But back to the sailing- it is exhilarating sailing at the moment, we pretty much have PUMA, Telefónica and ourselves flying across the same small bit of ocean towards Barbuda, trying to etch out fractions of miles over each other from one sked to the next.

I think everyone in each of the boats knows that these 24 hours is where the IWC Schaffhausen Speed Trophy for distance travelled will be decided.

We won it on the last leg so it would be nice to back it up on this leg also, it is a great award that adds a little extra incentive to push that much harder in conditions like this.

It would be spectacular if these conditions carried us all the way to the finish. I think it would be an equivalent of a horse racing photo finish but unfortunately it looks as if the brakes are put on big time in the last couple of days with very light and fickle wind which will make it one nerve-racking end to this leg.

I made a hugely amateur and flawed jacket choice today, which was pointed out to me by Trae the second I joined the huddle at the back of the boat, the next second a wall of white water had blasted down the deck into my jacket without a neck seal, and I was drenched. My aim of keeping things a little dry today was ruined.

Over the last couple of days, the excess heat and long hours spent working sitting on my damp backside have begun to take its toll. The other guys’ concern amounts to as much of a good laugh as possible. It is literally a pain in the arse. I ended up looking like a dog chasing its own tail as I was trying to get a glimpse at the extent of my wound. I am sure I will be OK; I just can’t really sit until we get to Miami.

Probably much like a WWF wrestler who has been atomic dropped onto the knee of Andre the Giant.


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