Strong winds are forecast for the start of Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Sunday afternoon in Cape Town as the famous ‘Cape Doctor’ – a strong southeasterly wind – pays a visit over the weekend.
On Saturday morning the doctor made a house call bringing a steady 40 knots of wind, and at least one gust of over 60 knots was recorded. This is expected to moderate somewhat for Sunday’s race start, but winds are forecast to remain in the 25 to 35 knot range, with some gusts significantly stronger.
“It’s going to be full-on for the start,” says Vestas 11th Hour Racing navigator Simon Fisher. “Very strong southeasterlies and then when we get offshore it will be a decent sea-state we’re banging into as well. It will soften a bit but then we’re quickly into the westerlies and it’s the proper Southern Ocean. It’s going to be an intense leg in general.”
“It could be very windy for the first week and very high speed,” agreed Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Dongfeng Race Team. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic leg.”
Leg 3, from Cape Town to Melbourne, Australia is a nominal 6,500 nautical miles. The routing takes the teams down into the ‘Roaring Forties’, the area south of 40-degrees latitude where storm systems circle Antarctica, unimpeded by any land mass. Towering waves, steady gale and storm force winds, and ice-cold temperatures are a daily feature here.
“We should remember it’s late spring, just the beginning of summer and the winter has just passed in the Southern Hemisphere so the water is still bloody cold,” said race veteran Bouwe Bekking, the skipper of Team Brunel.
“I think the most frightening thing is that the depressions are still so strong… the amount of pressure that is in the air is just humongous. And of course, the water temperatures – hopefully with the ice limits we don’t encounter any ice — but if the water is just a few degrees above freezing and you get a southerly breeze, you might be having icicles off the mast some times. We’ve experienced it in the past… When we did this leg in the old days, this was the leg when the most damage appeared. The boats today are stronger than before, but still things can break.”
Deciding when to push for speed and when to throttle back to protect crew and equipment is a delicate balance. The stakes are even higher as this is the first double-point leg. The winner of Leg 3 will collect 15 points (7 x 2 = 14 plus a 1 point win bonus).
“I think we have a lot of experience on our boat and we have to trust that experience in the Southern Ocean,” explained Charlie Enright, skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing talking about finding the balance of how hard to push. “It not just about the points, it’s the fact we don’t haul-out in Melbourne, it’s the heavy conditions in the Southern Ocean, because you don’t want to break anything…To finish first, you must first finish.”
For Xabi Fernández, the skipper of MAPFRE, the race leader, the stopover in Cape Town provided a much needed opportunity to recharge.
“After the first long leg (Lisbon to Cape Town), it’s always important to be in the front,” he said. “We’re happy as a team. We had a good stopover. The boat is in great shape and the team is as well, so we’re ready to go.”
The start of Leg 3 is scheduled for 2pm in Cape Town, 12:00 UTC.
WHY? It is a little known fact that Port Elizabeth has been approached TWICE to bid on becoming a stopover for the Volvo Ocean Race – the first attempt was stopped by our local Port Authorities and we await the outcome of the second. The home of Volvo Cars is Gothenburg – the second-largest city in Sweden which is twinned with Nelson Mandela Bay and which has provided incredible support and promotion for our Metropole.
MyPE is running a series of articles about the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race to: 1. Acknowledge and thank Gothenburg for their support, 2. Showcase a sport that Alan Straton is passionate about, 3. Demonstrate to citizens of Port Elizabeth just how much exposure a city like Cape Town receives from the VOR and 4. As a gentle reminder to the TNPA and our city of the great value that such an event can bring to our city.
The start city of the VOR – Alicante, Spain – estimates the economic value of each leg to be R960 Million. Click here to read very Volvo Ocean Race published on MyPE.
The local Algoa Bay Yacht Club has hosted many international sailing regattas, the most recent being the 60th 5O5 World Championships and, along with requests from the Volvo Ocean Race, have also recently been asked to host the 2019 stopover for the Clipper Around the World Yacht Race.
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