A 130 nautical mile lateral split has opened up in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Friday as the teams trade off better wind with shorter distance in a bid to get to Cape Town first.
Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel were today the most westerly boat having gybed onto starboard at 0900 UTC, with Vestas 11th Hour Racing following suit shortly after.
For several hours Bekking’s Dutch-flagged boat was actually pointing in the opposite direction to Cape Town, much to the amazement of some race fans glued to the tracker.
By 1300 UTC they were back on port having sailed 40 miles in the ‘wrong’ direction – but seven-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bekking explained that, despite what it might look like, there is method to their madness.
Brunel and Vestas are in fact gambling on being the first to reach bigger breeze associated with an large South Atlantic depression moving east at speed that could slingshot them to the finish line.
“We were one of the first to gybe, actually heading away from Cape Town,” said Bekking prior to rejoining the fleet on port gybe.
“The reason for that is that further to the west is more pressure. We are aiming to get to that area, do one final gybe