Volvo Ocean Race “Taking the long way”

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(February 10, 2018; Day 4) – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet continues today the perverse scenario of sailing away from the finish line in New Zealand. While the fleet is split in two, reflecting differing tactical choices, all six boats have pushed well to the north, with the finish line in Auckland far to the south.

The reasoning behind the northerly routing is weather based, a classic trade-off of sailing more miles in exchange for better conditions and speed. The calculation the navigators have made is that the increased speed will more than compensate for the extra distance.

Eventually, the fleet will turn to the south, negotiate the doldrums, and push into the tradewinds that will carry them to Auckland. But not just yet.

As of 1300 UTC, the leading group of four was separated by less than seven miles, with MAPFRE leading Dongfeng Race Team, Team Brunel and Turn the Tide on Plastic.

“It’s been intense since the beginning,” said Dongfeng navigator Pascal Bidégorry. “I have the impression that we have not stopped working. Many manoeuvres, even last night, we may have been a bit too greedy with the sail changes.

“But things are going well. There was an important decision to make earlier and we did not make the mistake of tacking too early after Taiwan. Now, we are going around the anticyclone, with a front and a second anticyclone coming closer to us, but that will be for tomorrow.”

The important decision Bidégorry is referring to was the tactical choice to tack hard north to starboard immediately after passing the southern tip of Taiwan. Both SHK/Scallywag and team AkzoNobel made this choice and for the moment, it has left them over 100 miles behind the leading pack, who waited to tack and appear to have escaped light winds close to the east side of Taiwan.

However, the trailing pair has finally picked up the favourable northerly shift they’d been looking for. For most of the day, they’ve been sailing in stronger winds and the deficit has come down by 20 miles over the past five hours. Whether that trend continues for long enough to make up for the early losses is something we’ll know by this time tomorrow.

Beginning on February 7, Leg 6 is listed as a 6,100 nautical mile course from Hong Kong to Auckland, New Zealand.

Damage: Only six of the seven teams are competing in Leg 6 as Vestas 11th Hour Racing is still repairing their boat following the collision with a fishing boat as they neared the finish line of Leg 4 in Hong Kong. The team shipped their boat to Auckland to complete repairs in time for the March 18 start of Leg 7 to Itajaí, Brazil.

Race details – Tracker – Scoreboard – Race route – Facebook – YouTube

Leg 6 – Position Report (13:00 UTC)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 4588.0 nm DTF
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 2.6 nm DTL
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 3.0 nm DTL
4. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 6.7 nm DTL
5. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 100.1 nm DTL
6: Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 110.3 nm DTL
DNS. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead; DNS – Did Not Start

Overall Results (after 5 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 34 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 30
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 23
4. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 20
5. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 18
6. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 15
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 9

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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