The fleet of boats in the Volvo Ocean Race continues to push north towards the next waypoints on the eastern tip of Brazil. Conditions have been stable with 10-12 kts of wind from between 050º – 060º that has allowed very little in the way of passing opportunity for any boat in the fleet.
Although, within a small range, the trend has pushed the main pack left, down towards Alvimedica, who have shown small signs of being lifted into the pack. Dongfeng Race Team has overtaken Alvimedica, with a slight lead of 3.2 nm. Team Brunel follows just behind, with Team SCA and MAPFRE neck and neck all within 6 miles of the leader. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is pulling up the rear; however, a distance of less than 20 nm separates the fleet.
Dongfeng Race Team has suffered badly at the hands of the clouds, but skipper Charles Caudrelier had to recognize that the last one was good for them. Coupled with a good tack and great speed for the last 48 hours, the team took the lead of the chasing pack trying to grind down Team Alvimedica and their nice little breakaway.
The wind has been very light and unstable, and as a function of each cloud line, each of the boats has good and bad phases. Hard on the nerves, no gain is ever for keeps. One cloud can ruin a team in one hour, all the 0.1 miles gained through hours of tuning and driving. But since this evening the wind is more stable and Dongfeng Race Team is going fast. Good news because changing the mast is never without consequence, and tuning a mast in just two hours in 20 knots of wind the night before a start is not ideal at all.
This Volvo is really something else. The move to One Design has really change the race and made it even tougher. The permanent contact between the competitors is tiring and stressful. It’s the Figaro type of intensity. Only the legs last 20 to 25 days not just 4. There are 8 sailors onboard and way fewer boats on the water, but the level is very matched.
Team SCA has joined the party on this leg. They have found the missing boat-speed that has let them down on the previous legs. Its great to see them there, and Dongfeng skipper Caudrelier is happy for his friend Sam Davies. They have worked hard and progressed since Alicante but have not found success on the previous legs.
The GRIB files agree with what’s happening to the boats, and predict that next the wind will veer again lifting the fleet around Recife at some point tomorrow morning. The routing takes them right along the shore line and as the leg gets more ‘reachy’, the land effects will have less of an influence than we have seen in other legs as they have tacked up the coast.
Leg 6 (5,010 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 3838.4 nm Distance to Finish
2. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 3.2 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 4.4 nm DTL
4. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 5.3 nm DTL
5. MAPFRE, Iker Martínez (ESP), 5.7 nm DTL
6. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 13.8 nm DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start
by Volvo Ocean Race