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Thread: VOR Leg 6

  1. #1

    VOR Leg 6

    The next 24 hours could prove crucial to Leg 6 leaders CAMPER and Abu Dhabi as they discover whether their split inshore will pay off.

    Changing sails onboard Abu Dhabi
    © Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

    With 80 miles of lateral separation splitting the leading pair from their rivals in the south-east, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker said he wouldn’t want to bet on who was in the strongest position.

    “CAMPER and ourselves are trying to keep out of the current, staying inshore,” Walker said. “It might be that there’s something off the land later today. It’s very much in the balance though -- the wind might fill in from the east a bit later.

    “I wouldn’t like to call who’s in the best position right now.”

    The divide was forced on the fleet by changing wind direction, meaning both groups had to commit to their inshore or offshore routes to sail the fastest angles.

    Wade Morgan modifies a part of the galley onboard Abu Dhabi
    ©Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

    Walker, a double Olympic silver medallist, said now the dice have been rolled it would be a question of who came off best in the race to pick up the consistent south-easterly trade winds.

    “Once we settle into the trade winds later on everyone’s probably going to take a similar line and it will be more boat speed-orientated,” Walker added.

    “There’s always decisions to be made but for sure right now there’s quite a big separation, quite a big difference in current and could quite easily be a big difference in breeze.

    “There are two distinct groups of boats – three if you count PUMA on their own – and we could easily see a break in the fleet.”

    On board first-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand the future was equally unclear.

    “Our hope is we will get a favourable wind shift and an ounce more pressure and be able to skirt inside them all and out in in front as we hit the trades,” said media crew member Hamish Hooper.

    “It’s a little optimistic maybe, but why not. The glass is always half full on CAMPER.”

    Nightfall approaches, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing
    ©Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

    Mondays report:

    Ken Read’s men have held a commanding position since blasting with assertion around yesterday’s 7.8 nautical mile quick-fire inshore course at Itajaí, and at 0700 UTC on Monday held a three nautical mile lead.

    PUMA Media Crew Member Amory Ross said the team were abuzz with the reality of holding first place, racing home and the prospect of sailing the final 10-plus day leg of this race.

    “The familiarity of our destination is exciting, and everyone’s looking forward to returning our Mar Mostro to the waters of the North Atlantic, the very same waters this adventure began so many months ago,’’ he said.

    The secondary fleet positions have continued to shuffle overnight as the sailors settle back into routines, with Groupama sailing team jumping from last to third at 1900 UTC before returning to the back of the fleet just eight hours later.

    Jono Swain and Tony Mutter keep Mar Mostro moving in light winds
    ©Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

    CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand managed to shift from last to fourth at 0100 UTC, before jumping to second at 0700 UTC. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are in third place and Team Telefónica are fourth, just 3.9 nm behind the leaders.

    The five teams have ticked off more than 200 nm since the 4,800 nm race started at 1700 UTC on Sunday, and have revelled in the first downwind start of this edition of the race Abu Dhabi MCM Nick Dana reported.

    “Conditions couldn’t be any better for the moment; fast reaching, flat seas and warm water,’’ he said.

    “It was difficult to get everyone into the watch routine, as they all seem to want to stay on deck and keep sailing. Azzam is off like a rocket and we are just holding off CAMPER who is about a mile to leeward of us.”

    On board CAMPER the crew had an eerie sense that they had never been ashore, having spend just six days in Itajaí after an epic 31-day Leg 5 that was marred with hull damage and a pit-stop at Chile.

    CAMPER MCM Hamish Hooper said the crew were in the worst physical shape they had been in so far, but mentally they were strong and focused on the race.

    “There is no point sweating the stuff you can’t control or getting frustrated at things that can’t change, you just have to keep focused on doing as best as you possibly can every time there are points up for grabs,’’ Hooper said.

    “It’s a relatively short leg, 14 days maybe, but there is going to be a lot on.

    “From what our trusty navigator Will Oxley tells me, this leg is going to be a virtual minefield of opportunities for big loses, and alternatively big gains so anything can happen.”

    Oxley reiterated that indeed it was going to be a tough race to call for navigators.

    “It’s quite a tricky leg actually, the next four or five days will be very, very tricky; light and shifty with potential for big changes on the leaderboard,’’ he said.

    “It could be for a long time any boat in the west looks better, but long term it looks like an easterly set up should pay.”

    Wet and wild onboard Groupama Sailing Team
    ©Yann Riou/Groupama ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  2. #2

    Back Into The Northern Hemi

    PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG tonight leads the fleet into the Doldrums for the fourth and final time during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 having crossed the Equator earlier today.

    A happy Franck Cammas, onboard Groupama
    ©Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race

    After failing on Leg 1 to supply King Neptune with the correct libations, something to which the crew attribute their subsequent dismasting, this time, they were careful to correct the error of their ways and offered the King a drop of rum to keep them safe in the northern hemisphere.

    At 1900 GMT, the Americans had a buffer of 26 nautical miles (nm) over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand who had gained 11 nm, overtaking Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) and moving into second place by just 0.8 of a mile, as the trio raced up the north east coast of Brazil, 200 nm offshore.

    So far, the light airs Doldrums zone, which stretches about 200 nm, has been well behaved, although a lot thunderstorm activity is on the cards for tonight.

    CAMPER co-skipper Stu Bannatyne believes that being this far west in the Atlantic, the Doldrums crossing will be a lot kinder.

    Bannatyne said a good passage through will be about managing the clouds and making sure you are not off course by more than five or 10 degrees, with the right sails up at the right time. According to Ian Walker, skipper of fourth-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, relative to the Doldrums we have seen in the race so far, it looks reasonable inactive.

    While Telefónica and CAMPER continue to make inroads into PUMA’s 26 nm lead, a distance that can be swallowed up in an instant by misjudging one rogue cloud, both Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Groupama have been leaking miles. At 1900 GMT tonight, Abu Dhabi was more than 110 nm miles adrift, while Groupama struggled, 151 nm astern of PUMA.

    The poor performance of Groupama is something this crack crew are simply not used to. “It doesn’t feel good to be trailing the other boats, it’s a completely new feeling,” said helmsman/trimmer Martin Stromberg. “There have been a lot of ups and downs, but at the moment there are a lot of downs,” he said. The crew are doing their best with the conditions they have and are hoping to find opportunities later in the leg.

    Bowman Zane Gills adjusting the sail, onboard Team Telefonica
    © Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race

    Once through the Doldrums, the north east trade winds will come into play, however they are fairly unstable at this time of the year. “It’s not uncommon to have a front push down from Florida and mess things up even more from the Bahamas onwards,” Bannatyne said.

    Giving hope to the beleaguered French team, the CAMPER co-skipper recalls finishing this race 10 years ago into Miami when there were “all sorts of rain clouds and thunderstorms”.

    “There were a lot of place changes in that last 150 miles. It’s still all on the table at this point,” Bannatyne said.

    Tonight, the first three boats are ripping up the miles towards Miami, and with a positive current and flat sea, speeds are still in the mid-teens, or in CAMPER’s case, nearly 20 knots.

    Once through the Doldrums, the next stage of the race, a 1,000 nm drag race to the mid Caribbean

    Another Brazilian sunset at sea, onboard PUMA
    ©Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  3. #3

    Moon Over Miami: VOR Fleet Taking Talents To South Beach

    Speeds were starting to drop on Thursday evening as the forecast compression of the fleet began.

    Leg leaders PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG still had a hold on the fleet hitting the highest average speed of 16.2 knots but every team had made gains at the latest position report.

    The past few days of classic trade wind sailing were due to come to end as the fleet encountered a drop in wind strength to around 10 knots.

    Gone are the conditions that have allowed PUMA and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand to set 24-hour distances of more than 500 miles.

    In their place come lighter winds that could see chasers Groupama sailing team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing make crucial gains.

    With more than 1,400 nautical miles left to sail to the Miami finish line, the race for victory in Leg 6 is far from over.

    Brad Jackson braces for the incoming torrent. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing
    © Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

    t was a case of enjoy the good times while they last on Thursday, with the Volvo Ocean Race teams revelling in boat speeds of up to 30 knots as light winds up ahead threatened to bring the rapid progress of the past few days to a grinding halt.

    PUMA continued to resist attempts from CAMPER and Telefónica to usurp them from their position at the top of the Leg 6 leaderboard, but with more than 1,500 nautical miles still to sail in the race to Miami a second successive leg win was far from secure.

    Just five nm split Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG from closest rivals CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand at 1300 UTC with Telefónica around 20 miles back.

    Despite the light and tricky weather conditions forecast for the coming days, CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson said his team had no plans on relinquishing pressure on the frontrunners.

    “When we look back through the race, whenever it’s been light and tricky we have fared pretty well,” he said. “We’re going to end up with an area of breeze where a certain amount of luck will come into play and we’re prepared for that.

    “We’ve been able to stay pretty strong this whole leg so far. Some conditions have suited us, some haven’t, yet we’re still here. We’re not going anywhere. We’re planning on being here right to the death on this one.”

    Michi Mueller parts the seas. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing
    ©Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

    Wade Morgan and Craig Satterthwaite on the bow during a peel onboard Abu Dhabi
    © Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

    Volvo Ocean Race chief meteorologist Gonzalo Infante said chasers Groupama sailing team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing would both gain significant miles on their rivals in the next 24 hours as they hold the better breeze for longer.

    “The trend of the leaders making gains which we have seen over the last few days is going to be reversed as the front teams hit the lighter airs,” he said. “There are still plenty of opportunities ahead.”

    Having overhauled Abu Dhabi to move into fourth place, Groupama were considering calculated risks in an attempt to catch their rivals around 100 miles ahead.

    However skipper Franck Cammas said his crew had to be mindful not to risk all and gain nothing.

    “We have got to be careful not to burn ourselves by going for an extreme option, “ he said. “If we pick an option we have to believe in it, not just give it all away.

    “We do hope though that the best option will also be the more extreme one – it could be the chance we need.”

    Craig Satterthwaite takes cover behind Jules Salter while the deck gets cover by water onboard Abu Dhabi
    ©Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

    The stern moving through the water at over 25 knots onboard CAMPER
    © Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race

    Although frustrated by their slip into fifth, Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi were looking ahead to potential chances that could come as the leaders slow in the light breezes.

    “We have got an inside lane at the moment and the breeze is due to drop quite significantly up ahead,” bowman Justin Slattery said.

    “I think there will definitely be opportunities to close down on the opposition and hopefully come in at them from behind over the next two or three days.

    “We are quite optimistic of getting a chance to get back into the game here and we will just see how it pans out over the next few days with Groupama.”

    The latest ETA for the leading boats is May 9. ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  4. #4

    Mar Monstro Meets Miami!

    PUMA's American skipper Ken Read enjoyed a glorious homecoming and a second consecutive leg win on Wednesday after an intense 18-day match race with close rivals CAMPER that has thrown the overall race wide open.

    Read’s men crossed the Miami finish line at 1414 local time, 1814 UTC, with a lead of around five nautical miles over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who gave them a real scare over a fraught final 24 hours and at one point closed to within just 0.6 nm.

    PUMA’s valiant defence of their long-held lead, which they lost just briefly to CAMPER early in the 4,800 nm race from Itajaí, Brazil, has earned them 30 points and made them serious trophy contenders with 147 overall.

    “This is unbelievable,’’ Read said just minutes after crossing the line in the company of about 100 spectator boats. “It's great to be back in the United States, actually we've been to Miami before in this boat, so this marks our complete circumnavigation.

    “It was touch and go, the guys on CAMPER sailed very well, but I couldn't be more proud of our team, they did an unbelievably great job.”

    All photos © IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race

    It is the fourth podum finish in six legs for PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG and confirms a major fightback since the team’s devastating retirement from Leg 1 with a broken mast.

    CAMPER are expected to cross the finish line in about 1500 local.

    The finish marks a major shift on the overall race leader board that threatens Team Telefónica’s grip, with their 16-point lead set to decrease by at least one, but potentially five points.

    The Spanish team are still on the race track tussling with Groupama sailing team for the remaining podium finish, with an ETA of 0300 UTC. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are expected at about 0800 UTC on Thursday. ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

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