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Thread: 2017 - 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

  1. #181
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    Team AkzoNobel hunting down Dongfeng



    The racing has continued to intensify over the last 24 hours with AkzoNobel getting within 2.5 nautical miles of Dongfeng Race Team. Behind – and to the southeast of the leaders – there is a chasing pack led by Mapfre, who are on the charge.

    The second group of boats – consisting of Mapfre, Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Turn the Tide on Plastic – have been making gains in stronger winds but this is likely to be short term. Within the next 24 hours the breeze is expected to slowly start shifting into the southeast, giving the boats on the left an advantage. Rosco Monson, our onshore navigator, explains:

    “Mapfre is on a charge to close the leading pair down before the shift. Short term, they have better pressure and angle but north and west positioning on the fleet is best for 48 hours’ time.”

    The racing for team AkzoNobel has been relentless with repeated gybes – requiring the continuous re-stacking of the boat – to stay in touch with the leaders, Dongfeng. This will be physically draining work and a real test for the team.







    “We have two options tactically,” explains Nicolai Sehested, boat captain. “We can go for the route we think is fastest and get us to Hong Kong first, or we can stay with the French even if we don’t agree with what they’re doing. We’ve stayed with Dongfeng mainly to keep low risk but also to learn from one of the fastest boats in the fleet.”

    Competing with the leaders in this leg not only shows the advancements made by the team in Cape Town and Melbourne, it also allows the them to observe the front-runners in the race and continually evolve their performance package.

    “We learn the moding,” said Sehestad. “How they sail the boat in different wind strengths. Say in this strength, 15 knots of breeze, they seem to be sailing a little higher to the wind and faster than us. Which means we have to see if that’s a better mode than the mode we’re sailing. We also learn setup wise what sail combinations they have hoisted. And again what wind strength and angles they use for different sails.”

    “It’ll be a huge boost for us if we can hang on to them. They’re a fast boat. It’s also what we need after the last leg. It’s good to have boats around us.”

    The temperature and intensity will be heating up for team AkzoNobel as they look to maintain their position at the head of the fleet and position themselves best for navigating around the Solomon Islands in 48 hours’ time.

    At 0700 UTC (0800 CET) team AkzoNobel was in second place in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, sailing northeast at 16.9 knots with 4,419 nautical miles (8,184 kilometers) to the finish in Hong Kong.








    It has been wonderful sailing over the past few days as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, led by the mighty Dongfeng, has romped up the East Australian coast on flat, blue water and running before a fresh southerly breeze.
    But Dongfeng and second-placed Team AkzoNobel have seen their advantage over the chasing boats dramatically reduced as the fleet heads offshore into the Coral Sea, with Dongfeng currently at a position around 300 miles east-northeast of Brisbane.

    As the boats enter the southeast trade wind belt that will take them up to the turning point off the Solomon Islands and the Doldrums, the boats behind have made big gains with MAPFRE – currently in third place for the leg - having cut its deficit on Dongfeng from around 46 miles to just seven.




    Over the last 270 miles the crew on the red and white Volvo Ocean 65 sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation has been busy with manoeuvres, gybing 10 times as they have sought out the best pressure and tried to avoid the worst of the south-flowing East Australian Current. MAPFRE by contrast has gybed only four times.

    Mid-way through the fourth day at sea, and with 4,400 nautical miles still to sail to Hong Kong, the fleet is broken into three groups with Dongfeng cruising along at 18 knots in the lead with Akzo right on her tail, two-and-a-half miles back. Then there is a group of three boats to windward led by MAPFRE, followed by Vestas 11th Hour Racing (+15.8 on the leader) and Turn the Tide on Plastic (+24). The final pair of Team Brunel and Sun Hung Kai Scallywag are another 30 and 40 miles back respectively.

    Up ahead, as temperatures ramp up, the fleet can expect a long drag race on starboard with cloud dodging becoming more and more important as navigators try to avoid being trapped in windless holes while their rivals sail by just a mile or so on either side.






    Things are looking up
    After a few days of struggling to find the right pace, things start to look better. The (new) team is finding out the process better and better and that's paying off. The lighter weather might create new opportunities for us! Watch the video and find out how beautiful sailing at night is, and where Capey thinks is paradise..





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  2. #182


    Whats up with those specks?

  3. #183
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    Sailing With Franck




    Want to know what Franck Cammas is really like? Our OBR, Martin Keruzore gives us the lowdown below:

    After just a few hours of sailing with him, you start to get a better understanding of how this guy has got to where he is today. A genius, a perfectionist or just gifted? I’m not sure which…

    Franck climbed aboard Dongfeng at the start of the week when we set sail from Melbourne for Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race. He has never raced nor trained on a Volvo Ocean 65 but within a matter of miles our navigator for this leg was fully focussed on the team’s performance and integrated into life on board.

    You’d think Franck trusted no one. When he’s not happy with the boat speed, which is very often the case, he comes out of his hideout and pounces on the helm to get a real feel for what’s going on and understand the whys and wherefores.



    He has a sharp, keen eye and you can see that his brain is whirring fast…very fast. He scrutinises and analyses the slightest detail and the slightest trim. He doesn’t think twice about going to check the trim of the headsails himself to be sure that the boat is at the absolute peak of her ability.

    He may examine everything in detail, getting a hosing down from bow to stern and investigating everything from the wand down to the keel in a bid to track down the disruptive element. We are always too slow for Franck, satisfaction is not part of his vocabulary. There is always better, always more efficient and faster.

    You’d think that to succeed you have to be a bit crazy and it becomes borderline exhausting just watching him and listening to him. He never stops. He runs everywhere, despite the smallness of the boat. It’s wearing. One thing for sure though, it has already proven its worth and this excellent sailor forces immense respect.



    Image and blog by Martin Keruzoré / Volvo Ocean Race
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  4. #184
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    Lightning Strikes Brunel. Vestas Takes Lead

    Competition intensifies as the doldrums take hold




    The new week started with a reshuffle of the Leg 4 leaderboard as the seven-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet eased into the Doldrums for the second time so far this race.

    After six days at sea, racing is so tight between the top five teams that the smallest of gains or losses can propel them up the rankings or send them plummeting down the positions.

    This was certainly the case on Monday as Vestas 11th Hour Racing became the new Leg 4 leaders while Dongfeng Race Team, the table-toppers for the first five days of racing, found themselves in fourth.




    Earlier Monday it was MAPFRE who occupied the top spot but at 1300 UTC the Spanish team had slid to fifth, while Turn the Tide on Plastic had rocketed into second.

    In reality the top five are neck and neck, just six miles splitting them in terms of distance to finish, and reason for the reordering is down to each team’s lateral positioning.

    As the most westerly boat in the fleet, Vestas 11th Hour Racing are now closer to the next waypoint than any other team. But whether this is the strongest position tactically remains to be seen.

    Dongfeng are the furthest east of the fleet, with MAPFRE, Turn the Tide on Plastic and team AkzoNobel inside them.






    With the current forecast the fleet is facing several hundred miles of light winds through the Doldrums, characterised by clouds, thunder storms and squalls that can hit without warning.

    The most direct route to Hong Kong would see them sail a more north-westerly course, but for all seven teams the key to success lies in how soon they can escape the clutches of the Doldrums.

    That means heading north as quickly as possible to get to the north-easterly trade winds and the better, more stable breeze they promise.




    The next 36 hours will arguably be among the most vital of the 6,000-mile stage – and could ultimately determine the Leg 4 podium despite there still being more than 3,000 miles left to sail.

    The enormity of the situation has not been lost on the sailors.

    “We've just had a post sunset total race reset,” said AkzoNobel’s Luke Molloy. “Vestas, MAPFRE, Dongfeng and Azko are all bunched together with TTOP not far behind.

    "The moment is intense, it could be the making or breaking of the race over the next hour."




    Vestas 11th Hour Racing crewmember Tom Johnson added: “Everyone’s had their chance at leading in this front pack. You’ve just got to make the right tactical call, get the right cloud, take the shift and it’s all up for grabs.”

    While the battle raged for first place, Team Brunel in sixth, around 20 miles south of the leading group, had other things than just racing to contend with when they bore the brunt of a particularly violent electric storm.




    “The stable breeze instantly changed and before we knew it we were becalmed,” skipper Bouwe Bekking revealed. “Then a huge lightning strike hit, so close the sparks were flying off the mast and runners.

    “Rome [Kirby], who was driving, was lying flat on the deck, just from the shock of the massive sound as well.”

    None of the sailors were injured, and miraculously their boat electronics survived intact too.

    Whether the nerves of the sailors across the fleet survive as well over the coming days is an open question.

    ******************


    Today was all about cloud activity and making the best of the wind it delivered. ☁️

    We tried to avoid certain areas of big black clouds and run away from other areas of dark clouds to ensure we could always make progress in the right direction. There is a lot more of this kind of activity ahead looking at the satellite pictures and some of the clouds are looking very active.

    Which ever boat comes out of the clouds ahead first will do very well, however the light airs area of the doldrums is looking large at the moment.

    Tonight is all about the lightening. On the satellite picture there is some activity 100 miles to the East of us and 20 miles to the West of us and it is putting on quite the performance. Lighting up the sky and making some dramatic images. There is no thunder so it is a silent movie being made for us to view in front line seats.

    Winds are light and temperatures are rising and everyone is pushing to get north as fast as possible. We may have lateral separation from the fleet but I am sure this will reduce in the next 100 miles.

    Yesterday, I commented on how little we have seen regarding marine life and I was hoping to say we could say the same about the debris in the oceans however, today that is not the case. We saw 'Wilson' The football Tom Hanks spoke to in 'Castaway' floating along today and then we had a rudder snag in a fishing net. The reality is there and it was a reminder that our oceans are littered with debris and it is human rubbish, so ultimately our fault. Lets help make a change this year.

    Dee and Team TTTOP



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  5. #185
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    Doldrum Blast Furnace



    As Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race neared its halfway point on Tuesday, any memories of the freezing cold Southern Ocean had long been banished.

    With every mile that the fleet climbs further north through the South Pacific, so the temperature of both the air and water rise too.

    Gone are the days of wearing countless layers of weather-proof clothing in a desperate attempt to stay warm and dry.

    Instead, seven days into the 6,000 mile leg from Melbourne to Hong Kong, the Volvo Ocean Race sailors are battling extreme heat as they close in on the Equator.







    The lack of breeze in the Doldrums only compounds the problem, slowing their progress through one of the most notorious climate zones for sailors.

    Usually lighter airs give sailors a chance to rest ahead of the next big blow but there’s no respite from the heat – it’s hotter down below than it is on deck.

    “It’s probably a really nice, comfortable 50 degrees celsius downstairs and about 47.8 degrees up on deck,” said Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Phil Harmer with a wry smile. “The sea temperature is 32 degrees – it’s just a pleasure. Even the off-watch guys don’t want to be down below.”

    Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag’s Ben Piggott, the youngest sailor in the fleet at just 21 years old, added: “It’s refreshing being able to sit up on deck and not wear five layers of clothes but at the same time it’s so frustrating because we’re just not going anywhere.”









    The blistering speeds of the opening few days of the leg might too be a distant memory but the racing continues to heat up.

    At 1300 UTC Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic topped the Leg 4 leaderboard as the most westerly boat in the fleet, with the Vestas squad, team AkzoNobel, Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE all lined up alongside them across a 15-mile gap.

    It’s so close at the front that most boats are in sight of one another after 3,000 miles of intense ocean racing.

    Team Brunel were just 11 miles directly behind Turn the Tide, while Scallywag was some 30 miles back.

    Although Hong Kong lies some 3,000 miles to the north west of the fleet, the short-term goal is to get north as quickly as possible to reach the trade winds.

    Once into this stable breeze the teams will be able to swing their bows left, open up the throttles and start knocking off the miles to the Leg 4 finish. But this respite is still some 36 hours away.



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    Free At Last!

    The Volvo Fleet has finally broken through the doldrums and into some freshening breeze
    on their sojourn north to Hong Kong!




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    When the Volvo Ocean Race fleet first encountered the notorious Doldrums as they raced through the Atlantic between Lisbon and Cape Town on Leg 2, they breezed through with minimal disruption.

    On the eighth day of Leg 4, it seemed the Doldrums were making up for missed opportunities earlier in the race by refusing to relinquish their grip on the seven teams currently ensnared in painfully light winds and blistering heat.

    For three days now the crews have been solely focused on getting north as quickly as possible so they can lock into the consistent trade winds that will fire them towards Hong Kong – but the race has been slow going.

    The wind has been almost non-existent, reducing average speeds over the last 24 hours to as little as three knots, while the air and sea temperatures have risen to uncomfortable levels.

    The only respite to the flapping sails and glassy seas is when a cloud appears – and then the temporary breeze it brings can be friend or foe.

    The excruciating conditions have left the fleet flummoxed.

    “It’s hot and slow,” said Jens Dolmer, boat captain on second-placed Team Brunel. “It’s been frustrating – we’ve done under 100 miles in 24 hours. During the day it’s very, very hot with no breeze at all. It saps your energy completely.”

    Asked to describe the current situation, Dolmer’s crewmate Sally Barkow needed just one word. “Torture,” she replied.















    The fickle nature of the Doldrums has seen most teams make gains and losses. At one point it seemed that those teams more to the east – Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Dongfeng Race Team, team Akzonobel and MAPFRE – had got a jump on Turn the Tide on Plastic, Brunel and Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag to the east.

    But by the next position report the westerly boats had pulled back the deficit and drawn level once more.

    The real winners in the past 24 hours has been Scallywag, who have managed to reduce a gap of more than 30 miles to around 10.







    In fact the 1300 UTC update placed them top of the rankings due to their westerly position, technically closer to the finish line, their home port and scores of waiting fans.

    “We’ve made gains on the fleet as the fastest boat, going a whole four knots,” Scallywag navigator Libby Greenhalgh said. “We’ve probably got another 250 miles of this light stuff, and at the moment we seem to be wiggling along quite well. If we can keep making gains and get ourselves level with the others then we’re in with a shout.”

    Despite what the rankings say, the smart money remains on the team that can hit the trade winds lying some 250 miles north first – and jump on the highway to Hong Kong.






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  7. #187
    It appears some of the boats had not gotten enough doldrums and went back for more!

  8. #188
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    Jumping On The Hong Kong Highway

    The Volvo Ocean Race fleet was gearing up to jump on the highway to Hong Kong on Friday after returning to the Northern Hemisphere for the first time since mid-November.



    All seven teams have now crossed the Equator, and at 1300 UTC were positioned right on the cusp of the trade winds that will fire them towards the finish line.

    Once they hook onto the prevailing easterly breeze they can expect steady winds of up to 20 knots – a stark contrast to the tortuous and fluky conditions faced in the Doldrums over the last five days.

    It will also spell an end to the constant gybing to avoid clouds that the Doldrums has demanded, replaced with simple and fast straight-line sailing.

    Until then though, the teams are having to contend with squalls and lulls that could yet see the order change.












    “Conditions have been really tricky,” said Carolijn Brouwer, crewmember on Dongfeng. “The wind picked up from four to 11 knots so we started shifting all the weight back in the boat. As soon as we’d finished the wind dropped again and we had to move it all back. It’s a real dance we have to do.”

    At the latest ranking update Dongfeng, the furthest east team, were in seventh place but Brouwer said they were confident onboard that their position would prove a strong one once they reach the trades.

    “In our last sched it didn’t look too good for us, we’re in last place, but from where we are and what we expect the weather to do that’s not entirely how we see it,” she added. “We’ve been aiming to get as far north as possible. The first boat to hook into the north-easterly trade winds will get richer, and that’s been our objective. We’re happy to the most easterly boat.”

    Itching to rise through the rankings and secure a podium position returning to their home port, Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag have gone for the opposite approach, staking their money on a course around 50 nautical miles west of the fleet, effectively cutting the corner on the left hand turn towards Hong Kong.






    Scallywag skipper Dave Witt has spoken candidly about his team’s desire to arrive home ahead of their rivals – and after trailing for the majority of the leg he and navigator Libby Greenhalgh chose today to make their move.

    As the most westerly boat in the fleet, and therefore closer in distance to the finish line, they shot to the top of the leg rankings and they were among the quickest boats in the fleet at 1300.

    Projections suggest that the move could see them end up neck and neck with the other teams when the fleet converges in the coming days.







    The return to the Northern Hemisphere also triggered the return of King Neptune, as more ‘pollywogs’ – sailors crossing the Equator for the first time – were inducted into his court.

    Twenty one sailors and six OBRs faced the traditional inauguration ritual during Leg 2 from Lisbon to Cape Town.

    On Leg 4, those in Neptune’s line of sight included Team Brunel’s Sam Newton, Hannah Diamond on Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Bleddyn Mon and Bernardo Freitas on Turn the Tide on Plastic and Trystan Seal on Scallywag.

    With Kyle Langford playing the role of Neptune, Newton was covered with days-old food leftovers before having chunks shaved out of his hair.

    But with just under 3,000 miles of Leg 4 still to go, Newton has plenty of time to grow his hair back before arriving Hong Kong.



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  9. #189
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    MOB Doesnt Slow Scallywag



    Following a dramatic man overboard recovery on Sunday, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag retain their lead in the race to Hong Kong...

    Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag retain the lead in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, despite a dramatic man overboard scenario on Sunday.

    Crew member Alex Gough was washed overboard by a wave during a sail change, near midday local time on Sunday afternoon, in winds of 15-20 knots.











    The team swung into recovery mode, and Gough was back on board within seven minutes, unharmed. Scallywag resumed racing immediately.

    “He went out on the outrigger, I was driving, and we went off a big sea and it picked him up threw him off, like a horse,” skipper David Witt said.

    “The main thing is, we got him back on board. He’s safe. But I think it’s shown everyone how hard it is to see the guy in the water. Even on a sunny day, 18 knots of wind… You wouldn’t want to be doing this in 20 knots in the dark.”




    Gough wasn’t wearing a harness or a lifejacket. Witt says he should have been tethered, or at minimum have told the helmsman what he was doing, before he went outside the lifelines on the outrigger.

    “I was pretty stupid, but luckily the guys were on to it. They turned around bloody quickly,” Gough said. “I’m good. I’m fine. It was a bit scary… But off we go again.”












    The manoeuvre cost the team some miles, but they had a few to spare, and still lead the fleet on the fast charge westward towards Hong Kong, now just over 2,000 nautical miles away.

    Dongfeng Race Team and team AkzoNobel continue to take a northerly option in comparison to the rest of the fleet, but to this point, are not seeing significantly different weather conditions.

    MAPFRE has worked well to push out some 30 miles ahead of Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team Brunel but remains at least 150 miles directly behind Scallywag and with some work to do to reel in the leaders as the fleet winds and weaves through the islands, islets and atolls of Micronesia.

    Leg 4 – Position Report – Sunday 14 January (Day 13) – 13:00 UTC

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  10. #190
    They should be clipping in or at least be wearing lifejackets.

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