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Thread: 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race

  1. #91

    Alvimedica Update 10/18

    The one design boat is helping to keep things interesting and helping to keep the boats close together in the Volvo Ocean Race. As a result the team needs to have 100% concentration at all times. Constantly adjusting trim, focusing on the course, and keeping a lookout for the competition's tactics is what keeps you in the game.

    Blog update 10/18

    There’s nothing like filling the void of a difficult day with some trade wind sailing. Yesterday was a tough one: we came out on the losing end of quite a few gambles and fell far off the lead pack, but the boys have bounced back well and the mood on deck in these near-perfect conditions has returned to one of humor and laughs.

    It was the first time I’ve seen the group visibly bummed about a sched or two, and maybe it’s because everything has been so easy to see with all of the boats in sight. And all of a sudden they were not, we were alone, and Charlie came up to say that it was the first time since we left Alicante that no one was visible on AIS, the proximity-based vessel tracking software. So we took our medicine, rejoined the fleet from the back of the line, and they have been grinding hard to make up the miles ever since.

    The fun sailing has helped for sure. It’s our first time seeing anything more than an occasional 16 knots since getting pasted by the low-pressure system, and the sustained twenties are a clear indication that the NE trade winds have arrived! These are the sailing days you will remember forever--beautiful downwind VMG running at 24 knots in wind and water that only continue to warm. It’s sailing perfection. But we’re rapidly making up the miles to the Cape Verdes, and then it’s on to the Doldrums and the Equator where variability and instability return to rule the roost. The closer we can get to the leaders before then the better—we want to make sure we don’t miss their window--so it’s hammer down for now! ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  2. #92

    Team SCA : Day 7

    There's an age old saying: expect the unexpected. It pretty much sums up offshore sailing • Posted on October 18, 2014

    However, there is also a degree of dealing with the expected. And there is a slight dance to be had-- to not be too shocked by either spectrum of a situation, and to handle all events with grace and control.

    Yesterday, for the first time in six days, we sailed alone. In previous Volvo Ocean Races this was the norm - head out of Alicante and not regroup until Cape Town, sail alone for three weeks. But so far, with all the boats the same, all of the boats have been sailing together which is not only amazing to watch but it is also amazing for the crew as we push ourselves that much harder. Alone, the other six boats are just virtual dots on a computer screen-- much like the Volvo Ocean Race computer game.

    At the moment, our goal is to get through our first rough patch so that we do catch back up. Sam and Libby sit at the navigation station for hours plotting a plan that will get us back in the ring as soon as possible. For hours they watch the weather systems, our boats, and the potential trackers, and then make their decision based on all the controllable factors.

    However, all of their hard work and focus still doesn't help the expected sting and disappointment of receiving the next position report (aka sked). There's an element of hope that maybe, just maybe, for the last six hours some miracle did happen. Except miracles don't happen every day and the two girls braced themselves for the sting a few times yesterday. Nonetheless, as expected, both Sam and Libby receive the news with grace and devise the next plan of attack.

    images © Corinna Halloran /Team SCA

    By no means are we admitting any defeat. As one fan said: the proverbial "Fat Lady" is not singing, and, come to think of it, she is not even close to being at the performance theatre. We have over 5,500 miles to sail past them. We keep reminding ourselves: this is not the sprint races we are used to. As a team we have not raced against other boats for longer than a week-- we need to remember that this is not 'game over' for us.

    There’s a boat full of tough, determined, focused women right now who are hungry to sail fast and hard, using every single second to perform at 101%, and get ourselves back with the rest of the fleet—and nothing is going to stop us until we do.

    - See more at: ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  3. #93

    Video by Stefan Coppers & Thijs Engelbertink
    Louis Balcaen turns 26 today. He is the youngest sailor onboard Team Brunel. He loves yacht racing, and triathlons.
    So here is a special gift for his birthday – a swim under the Dutch boat to have a look at the keel.

    His skipper noticed a speed difference with the rest of the fleet and decided to send a crew to check.
    “We had a little vibration on the boat,” says Bouwe Bekking, “and as well we could just see that the other boats were just slowly edging away.”
    Did Louis dive for nothing, or did he pick something up? The answer in the video above.

    images © Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  4. #94

    Team Alvimedica 10/20 Update

    It’s hard to explain the complexity of the weather in this part of the world. No computer model or forecaster can accurately predict the winds because the air here is dry and warm, 23c now, and the typical barometric pressure gradients that generate them become very weak. Weather is far more localized in the middle latitudes and things like small islands and clouds throw more than a few monkey wrenches in a well-laid plan.

    Will Oxley has been through here more than a dozen times and seems perfectly at grips with the reality of the region, but for Charlie—you can already sense a bit of frustration at seeing some big differences between the GRIB files that drive our weather routing and what we’re actually experiencing on deck. It will be a while before the two align again, and he’s starting to understand that much of the next week’s tactics will be made by looking skyward towards the clouds rather than down below at the nav station.

    And a small but significant aside—today Mark Towill turns 26. We’ve got a bit of a present-stash for Mark courtesy of Charlie’s wife, and needless to say this will be a birthday he won’t forget.

    You have to be patient, forgiving, and positive, and as we’ve committed to a middle-lane approach heading south, only time will tell how we fare. Brunel and Abu Dhabi are to our west, SCA on our line but 25 miles back, and the rest to the east, having navigated the tricky passages between the Verdes. We got caught jibing south maybe a little too early and fell into the lee of one of the bigger islands, and it’s a perfect example of relying too heavily on our computers rather than our eyes. In darkness we sailed under a chain of clouds that was most likely coming from Santa Antao, the westernmost island of the chain (and also—westernmost point of Africa), and it took us 30-degrees from our “expected” heading for a few hours. But we’re back on track now and there’s nothing much more to do at this point than sail south as quickly as possible—towards even more uncertainty in the Doldrums!

    ~Amory Ross~ ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  5. #95

    Team Vestas Wind Update 10/20

    TeamVestas passed through the windy islands of Cape Verde over the weekend. This was definitely their last glimpse of dry land for a while: "An amazing cluster of volcanic islands, normally we wouldn’t ever get the opportunity to see it but the weather routing had us take advantage of the funnel effects between the islands".

    In 1994, Vestas installed the first commercial wind farm in Cape Verde, one of the first in Africa. Wind energy supplies the country with an impressive 20% of its electricity, reducing fossil fuel imports by 22,000 tonnes per year!

    Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  6. #96

    Team SCA

    Today the fleet truly split Team SCA Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Brunel Sailing and Team Alvimedica chose north, while the remaining boats Team Vestas Wind MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team chose to head south. Now the fleet must head west in a race to reach Fernando de Noronha a way point, but not before they face the Doldrums. "There are still plenty of game changing situations to happen and none more so than the next couple days as the fleet split around Cape Verde and head to the Doldrums soon after which King Neptune will appear to give us an extra push!" Navigator Libby Greenhalgh. ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  7. #97

    Team Dongfeng 10_20 Update

    19th October 2014

    So what do you know about Cape Verde and Pascal Bidégorry?

    Cape Verde: A country that is a horseshoe-shaped cluster of ten volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean spanning 4033 km².

    Pascal Bidégorry: A man that is a force of nature and considered by his peers to be one of the most talented sailors of his generation, feisty at times and won’t suffer fools. Navigator for Dongfeng.

    Replace broken rudder?


    Win back first position?


    If only it were that easy. Amazingly we did manage to replace the rudder and regain first position amongst the fleet however just hours afterwards, navigator Pascal Bidégorry was faced with an important strategic decision. Should the team follow the fleet and sail around the top of Cape Verde or break away and sail through the Island cluster knowing full well they could run flat out of wind.

    Conventional wisdom, and what some might consider the more conservative route, is to go around the islands passing the western most islands to the north as the height of these volcanic islands (up to 2,500m) will cast what is called a wind shadow, which can extend to several tens of miles on the downwind side of each island, cancelling out any wind that might reach the boat. For the non-sailors that would be a bit like sheltering behind a building from the wind, which is exactly the opposite of what our boys are trying to do!

    However, once you get to know Pascal Bidégorry it becomes apparent that ‘conservative options’ aren’t really his thing. Like any good navigator, he knows when to call it a day but Pascal has balls and when he sees an opportunity he is likely to go for it. Backed by Skipper Charles Caudrelier, together they have made for an exciting show as they opted last to sail straight through the islands of Cape Verde and break away from the fleet.

    Yesterday it was clear that Abu Dhabi was leading the pack to go around to the west as Skipper Ian Walker expressed his surprise at Bidégorry’s choice; “I’m surprised at the teams who have chosen to go through the islands where there are massive wind shadows and unpredictable gusting winds. These teams also face the risk of setting themselves up too far east to cross the Doldrums.”

    But looking back at the tracker it was clear that our team had already decided to sail as low as possible to try and find the least damaging way directly through the islands. Even though now we can see they have been sucked into the first island they have passed and have had to gybe south for clean air, will they manage to find a way through?

    This brings us to Mapfre and Vestas, who (albeit a bit late) decided to bail out from the Abu Dhabi plan (perhaps after seeing Dongfeng’s decision) and took an initial hit. They have now sailed through the two most western islands, a risky but perhaps good move?

    It’s been a navigators race so far and as it stands the boys seem to be hanging on to the wind quite well but the question is, has Pascal Bidégorry pulled off a great chess move? Or will the wind shadows of Cape Verde islands trap them?

    Only time will tell.

    ~Yann Riou~ ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  8. #98

    Abu Dhabi 10_20 Update


    Well, we can’t complain about lack of entertainment so far in this race!

    The inshore racing action down the African coast came to an end with the boats finally being out of sight of each other as they approached one of the key tactical milestones of Leg 1; the Cape Verde Islands.

    While they look like little grey marks on the tracker, these islands reach between 1,600m and 2,400m into the sky. The potential to get becalmed beneath these imposing landscapes has generally made ocean racing navigators avoid sailing between them, despite the additional distance that is required by sailing to the north.

    The decision to sail north or go through the islands is further complicated as it affects the next decision on where to cross the equator and manage the fickle doldrums and the light winds that are prevalent here.

    Traditionally “west is best” has been the mantra, as the doldrums are generally narrower in the west. Those teams that chose to go through the islands have sailed a shorter distance, but also reduced their ability to get west, by being further south and closer to the areas of light winds.

    Dongfeng certainly is not afraid of taking risks, and decided to go straight through the islands along with Mapfre and Vestas, resulting in some nervous hours for those such as Abu Dhabi, who opted for the more traditional northerly route. As of this morning it looks like the short-term gains for Dongfeng have been wiped out with tactical advantage resting with Abu Dhabi and Team Brunel, but this could all change with the next weather update.

    The teams will now be deciding where they want to cross the doldrums, what angle they want to approach, and where they want to be after their exit.

    Each team will be desperately trying to unlock the slightest nuance between the weather models and studying satellite imagery of cloud build-up along the equator, to see if they can spot the ‘magic’ spot that will take them into the southern hemisphere. And just for added complication, when you have chosen the perfect location, it may have disappeared 6 hours later when the next weather report comes in. Who would be a navigator?

    With the winds and course looking reasonably predictable after the turning point of Fernando, the doldrums crossing could be the final big tactical decision that will go a long way to deciding this Leg. The new boys onboard the boats will also be anxiously awaiting the equator and the ‘wrath of King Neptune’, who will welcome them to the southern ocean with his usual bag of tricks.

    So keep the phone charged and the laptop plugged in - it’s going to be an interesting few days. Stay close to us at, and and thanks for following.

    Fair winds,
    Jamie ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  9. #99

    Mapfre Update 10_20

    The only thing we see is the other boats in the far distance, and occasionally a fishing boat, a cargo or a sailing boat around one of the islands. It’s kind of weird that after 9 days of sailing into the ocean we are still fighting our way! But that's life, you have to expect the unexpected and be ready to react in the best possible way.

    Carlos Hernández, Anthony Marchand and Xabi Fernández were all hit by flying fish.

    The worst is the smell they leave behind… and if one falls into the boat unnoticed, then it’s even worse.

    It’s getting warmer and warmer. Yesterday you couldn’t sleep inside anymore, so we ended up not sleeping at all.
    Francisco Vignale, OBR
    MAPFRE ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  10. #100
    Are the Alvimedicators dragging a net?

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