Volvo Fleet Heads for Newport

After months of following the fleet online, Volvo Ocean Race fans in the U.S. will soon have the opportunity to meet the crews in person as the fleet is scheduled to depart Itajaí, Brazil, this weekend bound for Newport, Rhode Island.  
Author:
Publish date:
 Abu Dhabi Ocean racing seems to be peaking as the fleet prepares for Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode island. Photo courtesy of VOR/Rick Tomlinson

Abu Dhabi Ocean racing seems to be peaking as the fleet prepares for Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode island. Photo courtesy of VOR/Rick Tomlinson

After months of following the fleet online, Volvo Ocean Race fans will soon have the opportunity to meet the crews in person as the fleet is scheduled to depart Itajaí, Brazil, this weekend bound for Newport, Rhode Island, in the sixth offshore leg of the race.

In contrast to Leg 5, which took the six remaining boats into the depths of the Southern Ocean, Leg 6 will once again see the fleet spending a good deal of time fairly close to shore, much as it did in the two legs through the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Still, some navigators may choose to head off onto the open ocean, depending on how things develop.

 Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright at the end of Leg 5. Photo courtesy of VOR/Amory Ross

Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright at the end of Leg 5. Photo courtesy of VOR/Amory Ross

“This is a coastal leg with some good offshore options to consider,” says VOR chief meteorologist Gonzalo Infante. “After leaving Itajaí the weather is very stormy and variable. There are warm currents close to the coast. Offshore or inshore? Sea breeze or land breeze? The land breeze is a good feature in Brazil, but it’s not constant.”

After that, Infante says, the six crews will want to hook onto the southeast trades and then wring out as much speed as possible from their boat while the wind blows, at the same time trying to get themselves lined up for a decent passage through the Doldrums­­—again. (This will be the fourth time the fleet crosses the equator in this year’s race.)

The final stage of the 5,010-mile leg will see the fleet’s navigators once again trying to figure out how best to play the conditions closer to shore as they battle their way up the U.S. East Coast. “From Miami latitude to Newport you have to choose between playing the Gulf Stream and staying offshore to play the weather systems until Rhode Island,” Infante says.

 Dongfeng arrives in Itajai under jury rig with the shore crew already at the dock to prepare stepping the new mast. Photo courtesy of VOR/Ainhoa Sanchez

Dongfeng arrives in Itajai under jury rig with the shore crew already at the dock to prepare stepping the new mast. Photo courtesy of VOR/Ainhoa Sanchez

Bottom line: in the coming days and weeks look for a lot of sleepless nights in front of the charterplotters in the boats’ nav stations.

In terms of the overall standings, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam is now well out in front after China’s Dongfeng was forced to drop out midway through Leg 5 when its mast broke just shy of Cape Horn. Even more impressive, Azzam skipper Ian Walker and the rest of his veteran crew appear to making all the right moves in terms of both boatspeed and tactics, which will make them very hard to catch as the fleets makes its way back to the Northern Hemisphere. In Leg 5, for example, it was U.S. skipper Charlie Enright and Alvimedica in the lead at Cape Horn, but it was Azzam that made it first to Itajaí after a tough stretch in the Southern Atlantic.

Not that the rest of the fleet is that far off the pace—if at all—and it wouldn’t take much to see Azzam a lot farther back in the fleet by the time the boats gather in Newport again.

“There are a couple of boats out there, Abu Dhabi for one, who seem to be pretty fast all the time, and there are other boats that are up and down. We’re one of those,” Enright said, summing things up recently while resting up in Itajaí.

 There will be plenty of good viewing spots ashore for the inshore race in Brazil this Saturday. Courtesy of VOR

There will be plenty of good viewing spots ashore for the inshore race in Brazil this Saturday. Courtesy of VOR

As for Dongfeng, after pulling out all the stops to nurse their stricken boat to Itajaí and step a new mast, the big question is how long it will take skipper Charles Caudrelier and the rest of the crew to get the boat back up to speed. If this was any other team, the answer would probably be: too long. However, Caudrelier and rest of his Sino-European crew have shown themselves to be the true comeback kids of the 2014-15 VOR, recovering from a number of other major setbacks, including a broken rudder on Leg 1 and a bad stretch that found them going from first to last and then back to first again in a matter of days en route to New Zealand.

To count this gritty team out would be foolish to say the least.

The inshore race in Itajaí is set to take place Saturday, April. Leg 6 begins Sunday, April 19, with the fleet expected to start arriving in Newport around May 5, the same day the VOR “village” opens to the public at historic Fort Adams.

Related

7261ab1f-6891-424f-a22f-14c946c08ba8

Gear: Fusion Panel-Stereo

Plug & Play StereoIt can be a real pain to install a marine stereo inside a boat, what with the tiresome business of running cables through cramped spaces and finding somewhere sensible to locate the speakers. The audiophiles at Fusion thought about this and came up with the ...read more

2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more

01a-rosemary-anchored-at-Qooqqut,-inland-from-Nuuk

Cruising: A Passage to Greenland

When a former winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race invites you to sail the Northwest Passage, there is only one sensible answer. No.More adventurous types might disagree, but they weren’t the ones facing frostbite of the lungs or the possibility of having the yacht’s hull ...read more