Volvo Ocean Race, the race to Cape Town enters a new phase
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 4:11 PM
The seven international teams all now have less than 3,200 nautical miles left in the 7,000-mile stage from the Portugal capital of Lisbon to Cape Town, South Africa.
The south-easterly tradewinds that blow south of the Equator remained kind to the fleet, allowing rapid reaching conditions that have resulted in speeds of up to 20 knots.
Having spent ten fast and furious days at sea, Team Brunel navigator Andrew Cape estimates that they will need another ten to reach the Leg 2 finish line.
Plenty of time then to mount an attack on their rivals Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE, who despite slipping to second and third on the official ranking due to their westerly position still lead the fleet on the charge south.
“We're halfway through the course in terms of distance and time today,” Cape, competing in his seventh Volvo Ocean Race, said "Boat speed helps – you're not going to get anywhere without it – but you're not going to get anywhere fast if you're going the wrong way. There's no such thing as sailing around people – they don't leave doors open or anything like that. We'll just sail with what we see, with the weather conditions we get, and others will do the same."
“We're not 50 miles back, we're right there in the mix. They [Dongfeng and MAPFRE] know we're clever and they've got to keep an eye on us.”
While the leaders are tracking south positioned slightly further to the west of the others, and just a few hundred miles off the Brazilian coast, on paper the biggest gains have been made by team AkzoNobel, Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag.
All three crews have significantly scythed their deficit to the leaders over the past 24 hours.
But in reality the reason for their success is that, by being more to the east, they are relatively-speaking much closer to the next waypoint than some of their rivals out west.
Team Akzonobel navigator Jules Salter explained that their easterly track was about finding the extra boost of speed they've been lacking over the past few days.
“It's purely about boatspeed right now as we've been struggling for that for a few days so we thought we'd get out of the line and work on trying to make the boat go a bit quicker,” he said “The leading boats are having a bit of a speed battle, so they're keeping themselves fast. It's a bit harder when you're on your own. We're trying to get a little bit of leverage without losing touch. That's what the next few days will be about.”
Meanwhile the favourable position reports have provided the teams further back with a welcome boost of morale.
"We're on fire - launched and loving it,” Turn the Tide on Plastic skipper Dee Caffari said after the morning position report arrived showing they'd halved the gap to the top spot from 60 miles to 30 “Best sched of the leg so far. We're the fastest boat and we've got our next victim in sight.”
But they’d do well to keep in mind most weather routing options favour a more direct push south. These theoretical gains, made by taking a more easterly heading, may prove fleeting.
Leg 2 – Position Report – Wednesday 15 November (Day 11) – 13:00 UTC
1. Team Brunel -- distance to finish – 3,099.4 nautical miles
2. Dongfeng Race Team +1.6
3. MAPFRE +1.9
4. team AkzoNobel +2.3
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing +15.4
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic +25.3
7. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +40.1