Dongfeng Race Team retains the lead in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race, but only just, as the leaders slow in Doldrums conditions. Just 10 miles separate first from fourth, and the difference between first and worst is scarcely 45 miles, good news for the backmarkers, who are back in the game.
These are agonising conditions for the sailors, who normally live and die by each of the six-hourly position reports. But with the positions closing up, the other boats are either in sight from on deck, or visible on AIS (Automatic Identification System), a maritime tracking system that shows the position and speed/direction of boats within about 10-12 nautical miles of each other for safety purposes. Today, the leading group of five are almost certainly visible on AIS to each other.
While the Doldrums are often considered an area of no wind, in reality, it is more often an area of variable conditions, where storm cells bring sudden strong winds from a different direction to the prevailing lighter conditions. This means constant vigilance, and makes it difficult to choose the right sail selection.
“We were sailing south with the fractional code zero (a big headsail good for sailing with the wind on the side of the boat) on and doing about 20 knots boatspeed and we could see a big cloud line ahead, which means something is going to happen,” explained MAPFRE watch captain Rob Greenhalgh, giving an example of life in the Doldrums.
“It was a big header (windshift), 50-degree header, and an increase in breeze, which meant a frenzy of sail changes, so we’re now on a jib, going upwind, close reaching, so our boatspeed is significantly less. Everyone is going to come through this line of Doldrums… Everyone is going to get it… We won’t know how it comes out for about five days.”
It might even come sooner than that. The leading teams should reach the equator in the next 24 hours or so, and pick up the trade winds again within two or three days.
Leg 2 – Position Report – Sunday 12 November (Day 8) – 13:00 UTC
- Dongfeng Race Team — distance to finish – 3,848.4 nautical miles
- MAPFRE +1.9
- Vestas 11th Hour Racing +5.6
- Team Brunel +10.2
- team AkzoNobel +12.9
- Turn the Tide on Plastic +42.6
- Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +45.7
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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