Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Winds Are A-Changing for Volvo Ocean Race Fleet

According to Kiwi co-skipper of CAMPER, Stu Bannatyne, the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race has been unusual and he should know having competed in this race five times before. “The traditional first half of the first leg of this race is nothing like we are experiencing now,” he said. This is due to the weather the fleet is contending with.
Xabi Fernandez and Iker Martinez learn of being named ISAF 2011 Sailors of the Year Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Out in the west it has been straight line sailing for new leader Telefónica (Iker Martinez/ESP), PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) in second and fourth-placed CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) who all continue to slog it out upwind, sometimes not tacking for hours.
Australian Navigator, Andrew Cape onboard Team Telefonica Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
A change in direction is expected when this group reaches Madeira, some 92 nautical miles ahead. The approaching frontal system will create a wind shift, so all gear is ready for the tack and the crews are waiting for the signs. Once through this system this group will start to turn south and enjoy some beam reaching towards the Doldrums.
Photo: Maria Muina/Team Telefonica
Meanwhile Groupama 4, who lead earlier this morning, have slipped back to third place after losing 17 nm, by having to sail dead downwind in light winds. Tomorrow they are expected to pass through the corridor between Lanzarote and Western Sahara where winds should build. They are now over 300 miles east of the rest of the fleet and 42 nautical miles offshore.
Photo: Maria Muina/Team Telefonica
Although the French crew described their position as the ‘highway to hell’, they also said: “With Morocco just under our eyes, we really feel like this is the start of a round the world trip. A lonely one, and one that really wasn’t planned.” Speaking to Race Headquarters this morning, PUMA’s Ken Read said he was surprised by Skipper Frank Cammas’ choice and would not want to be in his shoes.
Photo: Maria Muina/Team Telefonica
CAMPER sacrificed considerable miles to edge west yesterday and are now 60 nautical miles behind Telefónica and dropped another 16 nm in the last three hours. They are just trying to claw back the lost miles and get back into the race. The crew reports: “Everyone is still smiling and all still giving each other grief purely for the entertainment of everyone around them.”

Lulu Roseman

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