Publish date:

Volvo Race: Blasting Toward Newport

Author:
A-W1772_Musto_BANNERS_02

.

Turn the Tide on Plastics barrels north under picture-perfect trade wind conditions

Turn the Tide on Plastics barrels north under picture-perfect trade wind conditions

Despite the usual tactical and strategic challenges that are part and parcel of sailing up the coast of Brazil in the South Atlantic, a mercifully swift doldrums passage and strong northeast trade winds have the Volvo Ocean Race rocketing toward a finish in Newport as soon as the middle of next week: well ahead of schedule. That said, there’s still a lot of racing to go, not to mention plenty of additional tactical and strategic challenges in the form of the North Atlantic High, the Gulf Stream and whatever weather systems may stand ready to sweep out over the fleet from where they’re now being spawned somewhere over North America.

“We are pushing to the max we can do,” said Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking, whose team was in the lead at press time with about 1,500 miles to go to the finish. “We know we are sailing into less pressure, so the boats behind us will keep gaining: annoying but a fact we have to live with…. Andrew “Capey” Cape, our navigator, is relaxed in his own way, but you can see and feel that it is game-on. He is making I don't know how many simulations for all the routes possible from here to Newport.”

With respect to the Gulf Stream, Bekking added: “The current can run up to 5 to 6 knots. Unfortunately, it is not one straight stream, it has big eddies, so if you do it wrong you can have 5 knots against you while another boat has 5 knots with them. But we are confident!”

Meanwhile, 25 miles south east of Brunel, Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic was having to deal with the fact of having dropped down from a podium spot to fourth as a result of falling into an area of lighter and more contrary winds.

Team Brunel crewmember Nina Curtis cleans more of the dreaded Sargassum weed off the bow

Team Brunel crewmember Nina Curtis cleans more of the dreaded Sargassum weed off the bow

“Three disappointing position reports in a row is frustrating and could get you down,” she admitted. “During the early hours of this morning, the rain clouds carried some squally action and huge shifts. One minute we were in 28 knots of wind heading toward the Caribbean, and then the next moment we were lifted, toward the center of the high pressure, in 14 knots of

wind. We can only sail in the conditions that we have, and we are working hard. But it seems everyone else’s clouds are more user-friendly allowing them to keep gaining on us and we are slipping back.”

Then, of course, there is the continuing problem of weeds catching on the seven boats’ underwater appendages, which has been an issue since the doldrums.

“If it is not the up and down and shifts of the wind then it is this Sargassum weed. Rudders no longer having smooth water flow lose grip and the boat spinning out is not fast,” Caffari said, echoing the complaints voiced by the entire fleet over the past few days, which on a number of occasions has seen the sailors leaning far out over the boats’ topsides to clean things off—one of the lesser-known aspects of a VOR crew’s job description.

For the latest on the race as well as real-time position reports, click here.  

May 2018

A-W1772_Musto_02

Related

ed3b8ae9-b65d-2941-47ec-cd0277bfcbe8

Mirabaud Voting Open to the Public

Photos from the industry's top photographers are in, and the 12th annual Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition is underway. An international panel of judges has selected this year's 80 finalists, which have been published online. The panel will also select the winner of the ...read more

P1320232-copy

Annapolis’ Boat Show is Back

After a year off in 2020, the United States Boat Show in Annapolis is back. From the diminutive Areys Pond Cat 14 XFC to the massive Lagoon Sixty 5, many of the SAIL’s 2022 Best Boats Nominees are on display for the public to get a firsthand look at, and SAIL’s Best Boats panel ...read more

05-Squall-in-the-ITCZ

Close-Hauled to Hawaii

The saying “Nothing goes to windward like a 747,” is one of my favorites. I actually once took a 747 upwind, retracing my earlier downwind sailing route across the Pacific. I’ve also done a fair bit of ocean sailing to windward. The 747 was a lot more comfortable. But then ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG-2106

Refurbishing Shirley Rose: Part 3

If you missed the first installment, click here. The hull and deck of Shirley Rose had been repaired, but what kind of sailboat would she be without a sturdy rig? I was told she was ready to sail, and that the owner replaced the standing rigging a few years before. Shirley Rose ...read more

211007MINI_1208-2400x1600

Mini Transat: Bouroullec and Fink Win Leg One

The Mini Transat is a roughly 4000-mile course that comprises two legs— Les Sables D’Olonne, France to Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries, and Santa Cruz de La Palma to the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe. Two fleets of Mini 6.50s compete—the Production class in ...read more

01-LEAD-7-1-Rhiannon-loaded-on-the-truck-with-Clark,-Andre,-and-Louis

Book Excerpt: Taken By The Wind

In 1975, as a senior at Harvard, the question for Chicago-area sailor Mike Jacker became what to do next. The answer, as related in his new book Taken by the Wind, was to make a small-boat voyage to Tahiti with his grade-school friend Louis Gordon and Harvard classmate Clark ...read more

Maserati _Arthur Daniel

The RORC Caribbean 600 is Back

With a start planned for February 21 in Antigua, the famed 600-mile Caribbean race is back. The course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean islands starting from English Harbour, Antigua, and heading north to St Maarten and south to Guadeloupe, passing Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and ...read more

01-LEAD-14_00_210613_TORE03_JRE_4266_16961-3000x3000

The Ocean Race Europe

The fully crewed, round-the-world Ocean Race has experienced tremendous change over the years. From the 1993 transition to a one-design fleet to an ever-shifting route, what began as the amateur Whitbread Round the World Yacht Regatta in 1972 is a very different race today. The ...read more