Sunday, December 11, 2011

Not Much Puff In This Magic Dragon - Volvo Ocean Race Update

It's a painfully slow journey towards to the Cape of Good Hope, which lies just 17 nautical miles south east of the fleet,  for  the six yachts that started Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race earlier today.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
After a busy stopover in Cape Town the first night at sea looks set to be a slow and frustrating one for the crews as they inch along the coastline, just four nautical miles from the shoreline in little or no breeze.

At 1900 UTC tonight, race leader Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) leads Franck Cammas/FRA (Groupama 4) and the chasing pack by 0.20 nm, the slimmest of margins and in the most difficult conditions with almost no wind and with boat speeds of less than two knots.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Once they clear of the Cape the teams are expected to crack sheets and enjoy some quicker reaching conditions, although the Wind Gods will be testing the fleet with a complex set of weather conditions and currents ensuring Leg 2 will be no cakewalk.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
The Agulhas current, which runs south down the eastern coast of South Africa and meets the cold water of the Beneguela current and turns back on itself about one kilometre east of the Cape of Good Hope is sure to test the skills of the navigators. The result, the shallow area of the Agulhas Bank, is a notoriously rough piece of water to be negotiated. Here, the westerly winds along the African coast collide with the typical three  to five knot easterly Agulhas current that can potentially produce boat-breaking conditions. By sticking to the coast, the worse effects can be avoided.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Two of six teams in the fleet stepped new masts for this leg having dismasted in Leg 1 and both Ian Walker/GBR (Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam) and Ken Read/USA (PUMA’s Mar Mostro) will be cautious of the conditions expected here.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Speaking earlier today, skipper of Team Sanya, Mike Sanderson/NZL said, “It’s looking like the issue is going to be sea state rather than wind speed. Down by Cape Agulhas there are still three to four metre waves but only 20 knots of wind.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
“One of the things about 20 knots of wind is that the boats are already going as fast as they can go upwind, so it’s almost worse because you want to sail upwind at 13 knots but if there’s a leftover sea state left over from the big low out there we could be launching off some beauties.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
“Although we were cautious even when we ran into something [the boat was seriously damaged in the early part of Leg 1 and retired], I think the fleet is very conscious of getting through these first couple of days. I think you might even see a whole new level of people buttoning off,” Sanderson said.
Leg 2
Report: 11/12/2011 19:17:20 UTC
Lulu Roseman

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