The fleet restarted on Monday morning from the south coast of Brittany in the same order they finished yesterday, so it was no surprise to see MAPFRE and Vestas 11th Hour Racing take an early lead.
The fleet began the day in 10kts of wind but quickly fell into a light wind zone and have been struggling to make progress all day. The forecast is for more wind to increase – but from the west.
It means the navigators have to strike a delicate balance of making miles down the track while positioning themselves to the west of the fleet in order to catch the new wind first, without falling into the calms along the way.
“If I had a magic wand right now, I’d wave it and put myself a bit more west! But you’ve got to use the wind you’ve got” – Simon Fisher, Vestas 11th Hour Racing.
Former Olympic sailor, Hannah Diamond on Vestas 11th Hour Racing is clearly taking to her new offshore environment with enthusiasm. ‘There’s not been a lot of wind… so we’re all up on the bow to keep the weight forward, and we’re enjoying watching the dolphins playing with the boat!’
Even in a tight One Design fleet like the Volvo Ocean 65s, dolphins and flying fish will become the boat’s closest companions when racing on the open ocean.
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag have pushed west early and are becalmed, losing miles to the rest of the fleet who have stayed in better wind for the moment. The new team is still discovering the nuances of their Volvo Ocean 65, and how different it is from their team’s other boat, a much more powerful 100-foot supermaxi.
“It’s painful. If we don’t start finding some speed soon, we are in a world of trouble” – Steve Hayles, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag.
Respite comes with the new westerlies, expected to build to 10 knots at 2100 UTC – and that will turn to north-westerlies/northerlies that will allow the fleet to gybe in steady wind to Cape Finisterre and then down the Portuguese coast to the finish in Lisbon on Wednesday.
Just a few more painful hours of calms, but at least they have dolphins to keep them company!
by Conrad Colman