Volvo Ocean Race: Record breaking speeds finally

As Groupama slowly closes on Telefonica

Thursday June 14th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

When it comes to outright speed, the present Volvo Ocean Race has to date been most disappointing. However right now the VO70s are launched, recording the highest speeds we have seen so far this race.

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 44 00.000n 016 18.120w 24.9 56 581.26 0
2 Groupama Franck Cammas 44 01.500n 016 28.720w 24.95 58 587.4 6.14
3 Puma Ken Read 43 57.020n 016 30.280w 23.95 55 590.41 9.15
4 Camper Chris Nicholson 43 56.670n 016 36.430w 23 60 594.52 13.26
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 43 26.620n 016 49.570w 24.14 59 616.98 35.72
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 43 14.320n 017 19.570w 23.15 59 642.03 60.76

With 35 knots from the west, giant broad reaching conditions, so the VO70s are now finally on their fastest point of sail and we hope that someone down at Volvo HQ is keeping an eye on any runs that might threaten Ericsson 4’s outright monohull 24 hour record of 596.6nm, set during the last race. If it happens at all, the 24 hour record is likely to fall later this afternoon, for this will provide the period the VO70s have been enjoying prolonged wind speeds of more than 30 knots. As the chart above shows, the boats are at present still due south of the centre of the depression so they might just have enough runway before the wind backs into the southwest and the boats all have to gybe for the finish.

In terms of the record, it's not far off... At the latest sched Groupama has covered the most miles in the last 12 hours, at just over 291 miles, while at 0355 Camper had covered 287 miles in the previous 12 hours.

Meanwhile Telefonica continues to provide a masterclass in strong wind downhill sailing. Over the last 24 hours she has constantly managed to keep her nose in front, even though the order of the boat immediately astern of her have been changing.

On Groupama, who is gunning to arrive in their homeport first, last night they went to shorten sail only find the main halyard had jammed at the masthead. Bowman Brad Marsh made three trips to the top of the 31m mast to attempt to release it. The brave Kiwi managed to free the sail after two hours and the mainsail fell to the deck before being rehoisted. But this cost the team 20 miles, allowing both Puma and Camper to slip past. However since then the French boat, thought to be the strongest in these conditions, is back up to speed and has surged back into second place and if her present progress continues could well pull past Telefonica later today....

But the come-back kids have been Camper. After they pulled into fourth place coming into the San Miguel turn making yesterday morning, so the Kiwi crewed yacht is now back up with the front runners. “The miles are clocking down at a fantastic rate,” reported Camper MCM, Hamish Hooper. "In what seemed like minutes, 100 miles just disappeared." Hooper added that overnight the violent motion had catapulted him out of his bunk and forward into the nav area. Fortunately, navigator Will Oxley and skipper Chris Nicholson were not occupying it at the time and no one was hurt.





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