Volvo Ocean Race: Last blast

Three way fight for the lead as the boats approach the Fastnet Rock

Monday July 2nd 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Having left Lorient yesterday afternoon, so at the latest sched the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is approaching the Fastnet Rock turning mark after a fast night reaching across the Western Approaches.

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

Positions at 0810 UTC

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon Spd Crs DTF DTL
1 Telefonica Iker Martinez 50 56.720n 008 55.580w 16.3 314 171 0
2 Puma Ken Read 50 53.900n 009 00.330w 16.3 319 171.2 0.2
3 Camper Chris Nicholson 50 56.370n 008 55.580w 16.3 321 171.3 0.3
4 Groupama Franck Cammas 50 52.270n 008 59.370w 16.2 324 172.9 1.9
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 50 41.480n 008 46.600w 15.5 316 186.4 15.4
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 50 41.620n 008 43.550w 15.5 316 187.5 16.5

Since rounding Belle Ile around an hour and a half after setting sail from Lorient, so the six VO70s split at the Raz du Seine at around 1930 UTC last night with Puma and Sanya prefering to remain offshore but on the great circle, but with the remaining four opting to get the tidal benefit of the race. This ended up translating into a three mile loss for Puma, but, since moving out into the Western Approaches past the exclusion zone to the northwest of Ouessent, Puma has recovered this deficit. Meanwhile as the leaders passed Ouessant, so Camper has nosed into the lead pushing Telefonica into second.

Making the crossing with the southwesterlies building, the leaders flanned out a little with Groupama and Puma in the west and Telefonica edging out to the east and once overhauling Camper to take the lead. At the latest sched it is all change once again with Telefonica and Camper locked in a match race but with Puma sandwiching them in second place, 3 miles off to port. 

At the latest sched Telefonica has 36 miles to reach the Fastnet Rock. From there the boats will have to harden up to get around the numerous headlands off the southwest coast of Ireland, including Mizzen Head and Bray Head, when they will turn NNW and then around the Dingle Peninsula when they will turn NNE towards Galway.

Speaking from Camper, navigator Will Oxley explained that his team had decided on a very light boat for this leg with a massive stack. “It seems to be working so far. Also our timings on our sail changes have been very good and we seem to be hanging in there,” Oxley said.

Looking ahead, Oxley said he expects to see teams cutting the corners where there is favourable tide. “People are going to be pushing it, going as close as they can to the bricks. Probably the VMG run and the final gybe into Galway will be significant,” he said.

Of great significant is the finish position of Groupama. If she finishes fourth or higher then she will win the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race. A win for Telefonica with Puma coming home second, will still leave Ken Read's team in second place, a point ahead of Telefonica overall .

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