Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race is now underway. The 4,131-mile stretch will take the teams from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, Florida, and is expected to last about 14 days.
The winds along this route are fickle, so the biggest determinant of this race will be the boats’ decision to sail offshore or along the coast in order to catch the best winds.
CAMPER currently leads with Abu Dhabi close behind. Both teams have chosen to hug the coast of Brazil for now, fully aware of how much the details count in a race like this. PUMA, Telefónica and Groupama trail respectively.
“What we have seen in this race so far is that the boats can get spread very quickly,” said Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker. “Even small differences in angle, five or 10 degrees means the boats separate by tens of miles before you know it."
PUMA has chosen the middle road, sailing conservatively until they have a better idea of the kind of conditions they will be facing.
“It’s potentially quite variable, nothing's quite set in stone, that’s why we’re not putting on the blinkers and heading off shore,” said PUMA skipper Ken Read on his team’s decision to play it safe. “It’s quite changeable, I don’t know that anyone is 100 percent sure what’s going to happen up here.”
Groupama and Telefónica have chosen a more offshore route, hoping to avoid the temperamental breezes inland and find consistent weather conditions.
Team Sanya will sit out this leg as their boat is repaired in Savannah, Georgia. They will rejoin the race for Leg 7.
Photo by Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race