Volvo Ocean Race Leg 4, 600 miles for the finish line in Hong Kong
Thursday, January 18, 2018 9:23 AM
Tense times aboard the Volvo Ocean Race boats on Thursday morning (UTC) as the fleet makes a final push for the finish line in Hong Kong, some 600 nautical miles away.
The leader for most of the past week, SHK/Scallywag remains in Stealth Mode this morning and won't return to the tracker or position reports until 1300 (UTC).
When we last saw Scallywag, they were taking a hitch to the south, looking to consolidate their lead ahead of Vestas 11th Hour Racing. But it was a painful maneuver and their lead was bleeding away. We'll know how much they had to sacrifice when they return to view.
Meanwhile, Dongfeng Race Team has reappeared after their own dose of Stealth Mode and have picked a southerly lane, with good winds and a fast sailing angle. They trail Vestas 11th Hour Racing by just 25 miles this morning, having gained 10 miles over the past 12 hours. And somewhere in the mix there is team AkzoNobel, who have also now engaged Stealth Mode.
"We have had to be focussed on speed, sailing the boat fast and efficiently without anyone else in view to measure ourselves against," writes Vestas 11th Hour Racing navigator Simon Fisher.
"It is our invisible rivals, for each six hours between scheds at least that we have been trying to out run but outsmart also. With each passing cloud and wind shift we have had to weigh up the pros and cons of gybing, giving up fast pace to the finish versus securing our position relative to our rivals and making sure we are in the strongest breeze possible.
"With Dongfeng hiding in stealth for the last 24 hours we have been missing a reference point to our nearest rivals but at least with their re-appearance in the latest position report we have had some confirmation we are on the right track.
"Each hour spent sweating in the heat of the nav-station pouring over grib files and satellite images seems to have been well spent until now.
"There lies a tricky couple of days ahead though. The path past the Philippines and into the South China Sea is open to a number of options and some important choices will have to be made. We can easily see the fleet splitting which will no doubt lead to more tension as we close on the finish."
Hold on... it's going to be a wild 36 hours to the finish.