Volvo Ocean Race: Half way to San Miguel

But over the next 24 hours the boats will have to tackle the Azores high

Monday June 11th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The three powerful Juan K designs have been showing their strength in the beam reaching conditions the boats have been experiencing en route to the turning mark of the Azores island of San Miguel.

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (GFS model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0955

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon SoG CoG DTF DTL
1 Telefonica Iker Martinez 35 46.030n 015 45.330w 19.5 255 1641.5  
2 Groupama Franck Cammas 35 48.570n 015 45.330w 19.1 256 1643.8 2.3
3 Puma Ken Read 35 48.650n 015 44.130w 19.1 256 1644.7 3.2
4 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 35 49.300n 015 38.030w 19.1 252 1649.2 7.8
5 Camper Chris Nicholson 35 48.470n 015 33.670w 19.2 253 1652.9 11.4
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 35 39.620n 015 21.230w 18.6 251 1665.2 23.7

While Puma pulled off an exemplary start to lead the fleet out into the Atlantic once again, so as the boats all speared off to the southwest, with the wind on their starboard beam, so  at around 2000 UTC the mighty Telefonica powered through to take the lead. By virtue of being slightly further north, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing had a whiff of first place an hour later but by 0500 this morning the three Juan K designs were out in front, with Groupama relieving Puma of second place at the latest sched.

Over the last few hours with the wind starting to veer to due north, so the boats have taken this shift and have flattened out their south trajectory towards the mark.

The issue ahead is the Azores high. At present the high is centred some 100 miles due south of San Miguel and so at present the boats are virtually due east of it. However the GFS and European forecasts are disagreeing on how the high is going to move over the next 24-48 hours.

The American GFS model shows the high easing slightly further west over the next 24 hours. This would mean that at some point, the boats will have to spend the last 100-200 miles on the approach to San Miguel on the wind, in light breeze.

The European model shows the high's centre extending northeast around the southeast side of San Miguel and if this comes to pass then there will be a glass out for the whole fleet around 190 miles short of the mark. 

Whichever scenario comes to pass - this will certainly be the most tactically significant moment of this leg.

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