Volvo Ocean Race: Nearly at the trades

(January 11, 2018; Leg 4; Day 10) – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet was gearing up to jump on the highway to Hong Kong today after returning to the Northern Hemisphere for the first time since mid-November.

All seven teams have now crossed the Equator and were positioned right on the cusp of the trade winds that will fire them towards the finish line.

Once they hook onto the prevailing easterly breeze they can expect steady winds of up to 20 knots – a stark contrast to the tortuous and fluky conditions faced in the Doldrums over the last five days.

It will also spell an end to the constant gybing to avoid clouds that the Doldrums has demanded, replaced with simple and fast straight-line sailing.

Until then though, the teams are having to contend with squalls and lulls that could yet see the order change.

“Conditions have been really tricky,” said Carolijn Brouwer, crewmember on Dongfeng. “The wind picked up from four to 11 knots so we started shifting all the weight back in the boat. As soon as we’d finished the wind dropped again and we had to move it all back. It’s a real dance we have to do.”

While the rankings reflect each team’s distance to the finish, the order is expected to shuffle once the northerly teams – Vestas, Dongfeng, AkzoNobel – reach the trades.

“We’ve been aiming to get as far north as possible, and the first boat to hook into the north-easterly trade winds will get richer, and that’s been our objective,” notes Brouwer.

Itching to rise through the rankings and secure a podium position returning to their home port, Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag have gone for the opposite approach, staking their money on a course around 50 nautical miles west of the fleet, effectively cutting the corner on the left hand turn towards Hong Kong.

Scallywag skipper Dave Witt has spoken candidly about his team’s desire to arrive home ahead of their rivals – and after trailing for the majority of the leg he and navigator Libby Greenhalgh chose today to make their move.

As the most westerly boat in the fleet, and therefore closer in distance to the finish line, they shot to the top of the leg rankings. Projections suggest that the move could see them end up neck and neck with the other teams when the fleet converges in the coming days.

To see Leg 4 crew lists… click here.

 

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Leg 4 – Position Report (14:36 UTC)
1. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 2945.2 nm DTF
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Mark Towill (USA), 15.8 nm DTL
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 29.4 nm DTL
4. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 29.7 nm DTL
5. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 30.0 nm DTL
6. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 40.9 nm DTL
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 41.7 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead

Beginning on January 2, Leg 4 is a 5,600 nautical mile race up the east coast of Australia from Melbourne, into the Coral Sea and up north to Hong Kong. The ETA for Hong Kong will be more certain after the boats clear the Doldrums but is penciled in for January 20 to 21.

Overall Results (after 3 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 29 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 23
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 23
4. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 14
5. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 11
6. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 9
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 6

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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