Sunday, May 27, 2012

Abu Dhabi In The Clear, Testing Times For Rest Of Fleet - Volvo Ocean Race Update

After a frustrating night trapped by the high-pressure, at 0700 GMT Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) had sniffed the new breeze and while the chasing pack wallowed, Ian Walker and his men pulled out an advantage of 31 nautical miles (nm) over second-placed PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA).
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Meanwhile, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, Mike Sanderson has taken Sanya to with 60 nm of the ice limit in search of strong breeze.
Photo: Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race;
It was a frustrating night for Walker and his men as the weather gods flirted with the team, first producing breeze and then taking it away as the high pressure moved east, leaving Abu Dhabi becalmed and sailing backwards in the current.

“The important thing is that we have negotiated a very tricky part of the race course and are still leading,” said a relieved Walker this morning. The team has begun the curve to the east as is 29 nm to leeward of second-placed PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, but sailing three knots faster.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
But as Azzam picks up her skirts, the losses for the chasing pack have been significant. Third placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) has had a particularly torrid time. With the exception of Sanya, Nicholson and is men are the furthest to the north, but suffered a loss of 25 miles in the past three hour period, leaving them 50 miles adrift of the lead.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
“We have swapped sides with everyone, from being the southernmost boat, fighting to get back up here. Now they [the fleet] have all gone back down where we didn’t want to be. I don’t know what’s right, but it’s very interesting,” said CAMPER navigator Will Oxley.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
From their position midway between CAMPER and Abu Dhabi, PUMA is in a good position to pounce on the new breeze, but for now they can only watch as the stern of Azzam disappears over the horizon.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
“We’re committed to the north and there’s really not much to do other than keep the old girl going as best we can. Eventually the high will move on and we’ll get to punch our ticket for the fast ride east towards Lisbon,” explained Media Crew Member Amory Ross.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Although they are bringing up the rear, 112 miles behind the leaders, the crew of Sanya are enjoying the wildlife as they trek north in search of breeze. Turtles, whales and abound and the sunsets have been among the best ever seen by the crew. The northern course means more miles, but experienced Atlantic sailor and skipper Mike Sanderson, and his navigator Aksel Magdahl, have a plan up their sleeves, but it will take time for it to play out.
Leg 7
27/05/2012 7:03:25 UTC
Volvo Ocean Race Media

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