Monday, April 2, 2012

Blog From Yann Riou Onboard Groupama - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Leg 5 - Day 14 : Two anticyclones and a race on the cards

Added 01/04/2012, 09:50Filed in : Leg 5 - Auckland - Itajai
Groupama in the Volvo Ocean Race


Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race

It's no April Fool's trick. There's a large black cat on the tail of the French crew. The Americans have really been putting some serious pressure on them thanks to the light airs which have been causing Groupama 4 to stall. 2.4 miles (in terms of distance to the goal) separate Franck Cammas and his men from Puma, but laterally there is still 20 miles between them.

It's been a mixed day on Groupama 4. Downwind sailing in a gentle twenty knots or so of breeze, sunshine and flat seas. The temperatures are still cold, but they're gradually becoming milder. Tonight, the sea water has already climbed to 10 degrees. Conditions are both fast and pleasant for sailing, which gives you a sense of ease, particularly after the hard days we've experienced of late.

Paradoxically, the race has never been so intense. Puma has benefited from some favourable conditions to close on us. As I write, she is about twenty miles from us and practically on a level pegging in terms of distance to the goal.
Around twenty miles is close enough to be extremely dangerous, but far enough away not to be within sight, and hence out of our control. Basically, if their crew try a slightly different option, we won't know until the following standing... most likely 3 hours later...

And there's certainly going to be a few options to be had between here and Itajai! Some upwind, some downwind, some reaching, some light patches, some breezy conditions and two anticyclones to be traversed. A fine programme for the next five days then.

So, though we're making the most of our sleeping slots to get in some proper rest, once we're on deck, concentration is very much the order of the day. The guys are feeling the effects of the past two weeks of sailing, but the motivation levels are still intact.

During the time it's taken me to write this message, the wind has dropped from 18 to 8 knots. We're entering our first zone of high pressure...

Have a good Sunday and Happy April Fool's Day!

Yann

Standing for the 5th leg from Auckland - Itajai 1 April 2012, 0400 UTC
1. Groupama 1,413.6 miles from the finish
2. Puma 2.4 miles astern of the leader
3. Telefonica 411.0 miles astern of the leader
4. Camper 1,536.0 miles astern of the leader
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 1,832.6 miles astern of the leader
6. Sanya DNF.

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