• Corner Cutting To Auckland

    The winning move for Leg 4 saw Scallywag take the inside track on a left hand turn towards Hong Kong. This week, the Scallywags are looking for a repeat performance on the way to New Zealand...

    On Leg 4, racing into their home port of Hong Kong, SHK/Scallywag made a radical choice exiting the doldrums, cutting the corner and taking the inside track towards the finish line. As a result, they sailed less miles and passed the entire fleet en route to a spectacular victory.

    Fast forward to the early stages of Leg 6 where Scallywag again finds itself on the inside track, cutting the corner on the right hand turn to the south towards the finish line in New Zealand.

    Just over two days ago, it didn’t look like a good move. Scallywag, along with AkzoNobel, were seemingly marooned 120 miles behind the leaders.

    But as of 1300 UTC on Monday afternoon, skipper David Witt and his team of Scallywags were at the head of the ranking, with all six teams in the fleet within just five miles on distance to finish.

    The way Scallywag and AkzoNobel have come back into the fleet from 100-plus miles back hasn’t gone unnoticed by the previous leading group.

    “They have been dealt a lucky card, annoyingly,” said Dee Caffari, the skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic, talking about Scallywag. “They made a mistake, really, but they’re going to stay in this cold front longer. They’re going to be happily sailing in 20 knots, while we’re dealing with this transition.

    “But they will have a worse angle in the longer term. We think it will pay to be further east and we’re hoping it does pay off for us eventually.”

    The transition to the new breeze means the group of four boats positioned furthest east (but also further to the north) are currently sailing in light, unstable winds, trying to make gains to the east to pick up the trade winds.

    MAPFRE, Turn the Tide on Plastic, Dongfeng Race Team and Team Brunel are all within sight of each other, separated by less than four miles, and all are struggling to make progress.

    But on the other side of the transition, in the new breeze, conditions will be good for making miles south towards the doldrums.

    “It looks like a pretty quick transition into about three or four days of tight reaching. We’re looking forward to getting into it,” said Team Brunel’s Peter Burling.

    “The wind will slowly build as we get into the trade winds, and we’ll be reaching with the wind at about 65-degrees. We’re pretty happy about that because we seem to be pretty quick in those conditions.”

    But for the moment, it’s Scallywag and AkzoNobel who are reeling off the miles, trying to build enough of a buffer to lead through the trade winds and into the Doldrums.

    Back in Business

    Team AkzoNobel is officially back in the hunt on Leg 6 after 24 hours of wet and wild high-speed sailing as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet chased down a south-easterly moving storm front on the way to the equator.

    Team AkzoNobel's positioning to the west of the leading pack of four boats - Mapfre (ESP), Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Team Brunel (NED) and Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) - has resulted in steady gains as the team AkzoNobel sailors stayed in fast reaching mode longer than their easterly rivals.

    The next big challenge over the next 24 hours is how best to negotiate the tricky lighter wind transition from the strong northerlies generated by the cold front to quickly connect with the persistent north easterly northern hemisphere trade winds.

    Weather experts believe the teams further east will be the first to connect with the trade winds. If true this would hand even further advantage to the leading pack and the team AkzoNobel sailors will be working hard over the next 24 hours to narrow the lateral gap between them and the gang of four to minimise any losses during the upcoming transition.

    Two days ago, team AkzoNobel trailed the leaders by more than 200 kilometers. Today at 0700 UTC (0800 CET) today the crew was in sixth place, 65 kilometers off the Leg 6 lead held by Mapfre.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2017 - 2018 Volvo Ocean Race started by Photoboy View original post