Volvo Ocean Race: Round San Miguel

Telefonica and Groupama still jockeying for the lead as the VO70s head north in search of fresh breeze

Wednesday June 13th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

At around 0500 UTC this morning, Telefonica lead the boats around the turning mark at the western end of the Azores island of San Miguel to start their 'big' run towards Lorient.

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

Positions at 0655

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon Spd Crs DTF DTL
1 Telefonica Iker Martinez 38 21.780n 025 39.920w 16.6 13 1118.9 0
2 Groupama Franck Cammas 38 18.280n 025 37.850w 15.5 16 1119.73 0.82
3 Puma Ken Read 38 19.480n 025 40.480w 15.6 11 1120.64 1.74
4 Camper Chris Nicholson 38 13.780n 025 42.800w 15.2 8 1125.55 6.64
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 38 05.780n 025 44.650w 14 4 1131.58 12.67
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 37 56.020n 025 51.030w 13 343 1141.53 22.63

Fortunately it seems that the GFS model was more or less correct for yesterdays' forecast with the NNEerly breeze dying and a light northwesterly filling in after a small hiatus for two hours around midday yesterday. However during this period a small hitch north allowed Groupama to take over the lead from Telefonica and for Camper to make her move. While Groupama and Telefonica chose to stay north with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing behind them, Camper chose to stay south and sneaked past Ian Walker's team and into fourth place at 1300 UTC.

With a shifty northwesterly in place, the boats forged west, still with the three Juan K boat continuing to stay north, the three remaining boats were following a route around 8 miles further to the south.

At 2140 UTC yesterday evening, Sanya was the first to blink and tacked north, albeit unable to lay the mark. She was followed around half an hour later by Camper and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and then by Puma with Telefonica and Groupama at 2310. Shortly after midnight the wind backed into the west, lifting all the boats up on to course enabling them to lay the western end of San Miguel, the boats subsequently falling into line with Telefonica sneaking back ahead of Groupama at around 0115 UTC, leading the French boat around the turning mark at 0456 GMT this morning, just three minutes ahead. At this point Puma was still only 1.7 miles astern with Camper 5 miles off the leader, Abu Dhabi 8.9 miles back and Sanya bringing up the rear 15.6 miles back from the Spanish VO70.

Since then the boats have all speared off to the NNE in order to exit the high as quickly as possible and to find the strongest breeze. This won't be far away with a depression parked some 500 miles to their NNE. Once they reach adequate pressure, the boats will turn their bows towards Lorient. The forecast has the depression moving slowly ENE (towards the UK *!$%£%....) and intensifying over the next 48 hours, but it should means a fast passage towards the finish line for the six boats. 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing navigator Jules Salter says that as much as 45 knots of wind is possible as the fleet nears the centre of the depression. which is sweeping across their path. “Unfortunately, the way in which the storm is moving right now, it will be difficult to get to where we are trying to go without seeing some exceptionally heinous conditions."

However these should favour the UAE team. “It’s about time we got some real smoking downwind conditions – this should be quite a finish into France,” remarked Craig Satterthwaite.



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