While it may be a relaxed Sunday for many around the world, that is surely not the case for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet battling for position in the South Atlantic.
In particular, the navigators and skippers are faced with choices that may largely determine their fate on Leg 2 as they race towards Cape Town.
On Sunday morning, with most of the leading group having finally gybed and sailing an easterly track towards Cape Town, Team Brunel defied expectations and turned back to the southwest in an effort to get closer to the stronger winds of a weather system that is expected to deliver the leading group towards their destination.
Before the gybe, Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking explained the trade-offs in play.
“One more very important decision to make is to get the timing right for the most likely final gybe into Cape Town,” he wrote. “You go too early, you sail a shorter distance, but with a chance to have less breeze. You go too late and you sail too many miles. So this is a crucial one to set us up. But even after that it is far from over. If you look long term, there are some very tricky passages still to come on this leg.”
Bekking needn’t look far to see the stakes in play. On Saturday morning, Dongfeng Race Team, who had been leading for much of Leg 2, appeared to cut the corner too close, sailing too far to the east, and were punished immediately for getting too close to the light wind area.
“Of course it’s not a very good mood on board today; we lost so much in 24 hours,” wrote skipper Charles Caudrelier on Sunday morning. “We were in a perfect situation and we made a big mistake, playing too much with the high pressure and the light air… (But) six days to come back, and we never give up. We want a podium and we will fight until the end.”
After days of explaining away the rankings, with all the boats now pointing towards Cape Town, today’s 13:00 UTC position report is a much more accurate reflection of reality.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing heads the table, just marginally ahead of MAPFRE. But as watch captain and team director Mark Towill explains, the Spanish boat to the south is going to be hard to beat.
“MAPFRE has made a big play to the south and it looks like they’ve got more pressure down there so it will be interesting to see how that plays out over the next couple of days… We should see them move forward on us in the next couple of skeds. They look like the boat to beat right now.
“But there’s a lot of opportunity left… It looks pretty messy between here and Cape Town… Anybody could still win.”
Leg 2 – Position Report – Sunday 19 November (Day 15) – 13:00 UTC
- Vestas 11th Hour Racing — distance to finish – 2,286.6 nautical miles
- MAPFRE +9.3
- Team Brunel +20.4
- Dongfeng Race Team +53.0
- Turn the Tide on Plastic +54.6
- team AkzoNobel +70.9
- Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +85.0
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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