160 nautical miles now separate the Volvo Ocean fleet north to south.
The southern fleet has the wind – 15-18 knots from 070 deg – 080 deg – and the northern pair has 10-12 knots from slightly further right (109º – 112º). This will probably mean they will slightly close on the fleet to leeward but it will still be 10 days or so before we see a possible compression in the Doldrums.
Trying to race the boats close to you while getting to where you want to go – that’s the biggest challenge faced by the fleet in this fourth leg from China to New Zealand.
We have heard from Ian Walker on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing that the reason they didn’t go north was that they didn’t see Team SCA and Team Brunel go.
As with most things you can only work with the information you have at the time to make the best decision and that information was that they were near the lead boat and the boat closest to third.
Losing and gaining on the skeds is now irrelevant. If you can’t see your fellow sailors on the AIS then they are not worth worrying about.
Although having said that, both Ian and Alvimedica’s navigator Will Oxley have said they expected the northern routing to have paid more by now. The wind didn’t come in as early, however it will still come in from the northeast so they could still get the big gains.
Only 8 nm separate the southern pack and after such a long straight-line race they must be spying on each other trying to work out how to go faster.
Volvo Ocean Race – Leg 4 – Updated Positions at 12:40 hrs Friday 13 February 2015
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – Distance to Finish 4356 nm
2. MAPFRE – DTL 3.9 nm
3. Dongfeng Race Team – DTL 5.9 nm
4. Team Alvimedica DTL 5.9 nm
5. Team Brunel – DTL 77 nm
6. Team SCA – DTL 101 nm