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Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18, Leg 6: Scallywags to the fore

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VOR 2017/18 Leg 6 © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race
VOR 2017/18 Leg 6 © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race

Scallywag skipper David Witt has long claimed he's not a big fan of computer files and weather routing. He prefers, he says, to stick his head out the hatch, look at the clouds and point the boat accordingly.


That's the way teams sail through the localised weather in the doldrums and it appears as if Witt and his team are as good at it as anyone. With new navigator Libby Greenhalgh taking care of the 'fancy computer stuff' and Witt doing his 'seat of the pants' thing, the team is proving its mettle.

For the second consecutive doldrums crossing, Scallywag has made significant gains to grab the lead. At 0700 UTC on Sunday morning, the Hong Kong based team had a 6-mile lead, having gained over 50 miles over the past 24 hours.

While some models showed the wind would be more stable over the past 12 hours or so, that hasn't come to pass. Speeds have ranged from 2 to 25 knots at various times throughout the night (UTC), as the effect of local clouds overwhelm the gradient breeze.

Team AkzoNobel, approximately 50 miles to the east of Scallywag, suffered through this last night, sailing in completely different conditions.

On the 0700 position snapshot, wind speed varied from 4.2 knots for AkzoNobel all the way up to 16.5 knots for Turn the Tide on Plastic. The leaderboard is anything but stable.

At the back, overall race leaders MAPRE and Dongfeng are still match racing, separated by less than 10 miles, but nearly 200 miles behind Scallywag.

Turn the Tide on Plastic is led by Brunel in the middle pairing battling for third place.

Inmarsat has resolved an issue with the satellite that handled communications over the Asia-Pacific area. The outage meant our only contact with the boats was reduced to position reports and short text messages. But we're back up to speed now and the fleet is grateful for the work done to resolve the issue, as Team Brunel's Bouwe Bekking notes.

"We are back in action having internet connection again after a service call with the Inmarsat satellites. Yes, these also have to get serviced! You just realize how much you depend on the net. Contact with home, position reports, downlading the all so important weather info... So what to do now?

"The last part, the weather files, haven't been very useful at all the last few days. The massive super cells / thunder storms are running the show...

"But just to go back to Inmarsat and the Cobham communciation equipment. Just hats off for them, they give us remarkable service and outstanding equipment. It is amazing for a simple yachtie like me to see how this all works. They show you these drawings how it functions... boat sends signal or message to satelllite, then satellite sends it race back to earth, you just don't realize through how many loops that message has gone, not to mention the zillion of hours both companies have spent to get their products to where they are today. And then they still have the drive to make it better... So chapeaux - hats off to you!"

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