• Fleet Rounds Fastnet And Finds Breeze

    Team AkzoNobel in third place on approach to Fastnet Rock

    Team AkzoNobel is this morning in a scrap for third place on Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race after a night of smooth straight-line reaching across the Irish Sea towards the south west tip of Ireland.

    At 0700 UTC (0900 CEST) this morning the team AkzoNobel crew was locked in a head-to-head drag race with fourth placed Mapfre (ESP) – just a tenth of a nautical mile further back – as the seven-boat fleet powered westward at speeds approaching 20-knots.

    Later this morning the boats will pass one of yacht racing’s most iconic turning markers – the lighthouse on Fastnet Rock – and will start to feel a significant softening in the northerly breeze as the wind shadow caused by the Irish landmass takes effect.

    Just 3.7 nm (6.8 km) adrift of Leg 10 leader Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) and just over one nautical mile (2 km) behind second placed Team Brunel (NED), the team AkzoNobel sailors will be on full alert for any chance to break through into the lead as the boats battle along the spectacular Irish coastline during the next 24 hours.


    After a very difficult start to Leg 10 from Cardiff to Gothenburg, when Dongfeng got stuck at the back of the pack, the Chinese-flagged Volvo Ocean 65 is now leading the fleet as they head towards the southern tip of Ireland.
    Dongfeng slipped back to sixth place in the first few hours of the race as the fleet tip-toed out of the Bristol Channel in very light wind. But skipper Charles Caudrelier and navigator Pascal Bidegorry spotted more tide and more breeze on the left of the course and headed away from the boats inshore. It proved an excellent decision.

    As dusk fell on a beautiful day off the Welsh coast, Dongfeng steadily overhauled the leaders and moved to the front of the fleet, as summarised by Chinese sailor Xue Liu, aka Black.

    “We are trying to stay in the middle of the Channel because there is more current for us and the group inshore has very light wind, so we try to stay in the middle where there is more wind on the lefthand side – so it’s quite a good moment for us,” he said.

    The successful early stages of this leg will have calmed nerves on Dongfeng on a short and intense stage that the team would dearly love to win. At the very least they will want to get into Gothenburg ahead of both MAPFRE and Team Brunel, their rivals for overall victory in this race.

    This morning the boats are making swift progress across the Celtic Sea and are about 50 miles east of the Fastnet Rock with Dongfeng leading from Team Brunel (+2.4), then Team AkzoNobel (+4.1) and then MAPFRE (+4.2).

    The backmarker is Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag which was forced to anchor overnight to avoid being swept eastwards by the flood tide. She is now 104 miles off the pace.

    The early photos and video from Dongfeng show Charles and Pascal spending time together on deck checking the breeze on the water with Jack Bouttell on the wheel.

    In the lightest airs some of the crew have been spending time on the bow helping to make sure the back of the boat is as light as possible and not creating drag. At one point Fabien Delahaye, Daryl Wislang, Black and Justine Mettraux were there altogether.

    Up ahead it looks like a long beat up the Irish coast when the trick will be to stay quite close inshore to avoid lighter winds out to sea. The later stages of the leg are likely to see much stronger air from the southwest as a big Atlantic depression moves across the course.

    Cardiff (WALES) 9 June 2018 - Under sunny skies but very light air, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet drifted out the Bristol Channel for the start of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales to Gothenburg, Sweden. The penultimate leg is expected to take just under five days sending the fleet around the west coast of Ireland, through the North Sea, and up the Göta älv River to the finish line.

    "It has been great to sail around the world and then into my home country," said Navigator Simon Fisher ahead of the leg start. "The race has not been in the UK since my first race way back in 2006 and it’s never been to the west coast, let alone Wales, and this has been a fantastic stopover to spend with family and friends."

    While in Cardiff, Fisher and the other sailors met with Tony Juniper CBE to discuss the team’s sustainability initiatives and how the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership impacted the team.

    At this stopover, held on Cardiff Bay, the Volvo 65s exited through a lock for the inshore racing in Bristol Channel under challenging tidal conditions. Cardiff has a daily 8-10 meter tide - which means there can be huge advantages to playing the current correctly. Today's leg start was delayed to 1620 local time in order to accommodate the tides and light air conditions.

    “I think we could see the race won or lost in the first few hours if you don’t play the current correctly,” said Skipper Charlie Enright. "Then we could see a ‘rich get richer’ situation develop quite quickly.” Vestas 11th Hour Racing led out of the racing area trading tacks with MAPFRE in the first hour of the race.

    The hope in the light air is that the fleet is able to exit the Bristol channel before the tide turns. Otherwise, some boats may be anchoring to avoid drifting backward. Once they escape the tidal area, they will be reaching to the southwestern corner of Ireland to try and outrace a developing high-pressure system. Then, there will be a key decision due to another potential light air area off Northern Ireland where a split in the fleet is likely with boats opting for different routings to balance wind versus distance.

    The best strategy for the blue boat is to avoid the match racing at the top of the fleet and draw upon the success of the shorter Leg 1 win to get back on the podium.

    “We are racing for more than a trophy now,” said Enright. “We are doing it for ourselves and most importantly for this bigger message of sustainability and ocean health."

    The team welcomed aboard Dr. Robert Mulvaney as the leg jumper for the start. The sailors met Mulvaney back in September at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - where they learned about his work studying ice as an indicator of climate change. Dr. Mulvaney has spent more time in the Southern Ocean than any of the Volvo Ocean Race sailors and he is about to embark on his 23rd Antarctic expedition.

    In a final team meeting before departure, Enright reminded the team to enjoy these last moments on the water together.

    "Bring the intensity but don't forget to enjoy it. We love this sport, so let's finish as strong as we started."

    Leg 10 Crew list

    Charlie Enright USA (Skipper)
    Simon Fisher GBR (Navigator)
    Mark Towill USA (Team Director)
    Nick Dana USA (Boat Captain)
    Jena Hansen DEN (Crew Member)
    Phil Harmer AUS (Crew Member)
    Tom Johnson AUS (Crew Member)
    Tony Mutter NZL (Crew Member)
    Stacey Jackson AUS (Crew Member)
    Jeremie Lecaudey FRA (OBR)


    Update 1951 UTC - 11/06/2018
    In the last 45 minutes, we overshot a tack and had to go around an island, ending up at the back of the pack. Bouwe was audibly frustrated.

    Down below at the Nav station Pete and Capey are looking at future options.
    "We'll get em back," said Pete.

    Update 1656 UTC - 11/06/2018
    The wind is here! Upwind breeze, that is. 20 knots TWS bearing 337, we're beating up Ireland's West Coast now.
    The fleet is still incredibly close together. Maybe too close to tell who's in the top spot. Boat speed is 11.4 knots.

    Sam Greenfield - OBR

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