2014 – 15 Volvo Ocean Race – Apart from the occasional rainsquall, the sailors have been living the dream. 20 knots of boat speed in 20 knots of wind, sunshine and a sea temperature of 26º C equals deep joy. The fleet is all agreed that although pushing every bit as hard as ever, they are loving the fast sailing, beam reaching with the wind just 15º behind the mast.
Debate across the fleet on which side to take has been the theme of the past 12 hours. Team SCA has probably made the most aggressive move, by switching from the most windward to be the most southerly. A little later they decided to compromise and set up in the middle of the fleet again.
At the same time Mapfre made the opposite move and is now far right in the pack. The spread has slowly opened up too. 12 hours ago the distance was just 14 nautical miles – now it is over 40nm. We have been reporting that the fleet has many options open to them. This may be the fleet slowly opening out, however if the herd mentality still prevails, they will not open out much more. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing continues to hold a front row seat after their very impressive fight back to frontline.
Dongfeng Race Team and Team Brunel are the two boats sticking closest to each other as they both do a nice job of extending out a little to the south of the others in the lineup.
Bouwe Bekking, skipper of Team Brunel has said that sailing through the Caribbean Islands on an easterly route is no longer an option for his team.
“Unfortunately we leave the Caribbean to port. It would have been nice to have had a pitstop there,” he said.
In some communications from the boats, they are already talking about the final stages of this leg. Apart from navigation, a possible low pressure hangs to the east of the United States. After starting this report with the current tropical conditions, it’s a change to hear the fleet expects to finish in the famous Newport Fog, which sometimes creeps in at this time of the year.
Let’s hope they can bring the sun and clear skies north.