After spending a full week in first place following their speedy exit from the doldrums, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has fallen behind Team Brunel. However, Brunel’s advantage may prove short-lived as the fleet picks its way through or around the light winds in the South Atlantic as they work their way toward the finish in Cape Town.
Further back in the standings, Team Vestas Wind has gambled by following a course to the west of the two leaders, an approach that has been paying slim dividends with markedly less breeze they’d originally hoped for. Meanwhile, Spain’s MAPFRE went even more for broke, heading a good 230 miles west of Team Brunel where it has been enjoying the best winds of the fleet.
“Right now it’s almost as if we’re in a three-way tie for the lead with each boat making bets as to where the breeze is going to be strongest as we make our way around the western edge of the St Helena High,” said Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s U.S.-born onboard reporter, Matt Knighton.
“Vestas is way out west,” Knighton added. “We gybed westward a couple of times during the day to try and find more wind. Brunel opted to continue on our original southerly route and not gybe west…. Three boats, spanning 100 miles of ocean, each with a chance of working around the other two to get around the high fastest. We’ve been routing all of our positions, and if you were to trust the computer, we’d all be finishing within an hour of each other with Abu Dhabi in the lead.”
Bottom line, it remains anyone’s race as the boats head into the homestretch of the 6,487-mile first leg from Alicante to Cape Town, with an expected ETA of around November 5.