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Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 4 restart from the Doldrums
Onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Luke Parko Parkinson lights up the trim on the headsails as Azzam heads into a rain squall at night - Leg 4 to Auckland - Volvo Ocean Race 2015Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Volvo Ocean Race – Leg 4

Volvo Ocean Race – Leg 4 restart from the Doldrums

Volvo Ocean Race – ‘This is the Doldrums?!?’ – questioned Dongfeng’s OBR Sam Greenfield on a note to our desk. ‘We’ve had the fastest and wettest downwind conditions yet on this leg (or the last) during this morning’s romp through the Doldrums, hitting 20-24 knots SOG.

Yes, Sam this is the Doldrums – on an unpredictable race where challenges are always around the corner. Who would have guessed that the fleet was going to be sailing through the ITCZ doing average speeds from 12 to 22 knots?

What a crazy night!’ said Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) ’s Skipper Ian Walker who is back in the lead.

Huge clouds, loads of rain, massive gains and losses. Leg 4 has just been reset. Now we find ourselves sailing in 20 knots more wind than forecast and literally ripping towards Auckland. As fast as we make plans in the nav-station we are having to tear them up and start again.

As per normal we have positioned ourselves in the middle in the hope we will cover ourselves in the event of the unexpected. I am not sure how this will play out but would favour the guys in the east right now.

Looking at the tracker, MAPFRE in second place is 16nm NE of ADOR, DFRT is in third 21 nm NE of ADOR. These three are neck and neck and making very similar speeds in the last 12 hours.

But the most interesting turn of events happened at 0130 UTC. Team Brunel was just 8 nm east of the Duff Islands when they decided to gybe to the east. They went left for 46 nm before gybing back to the south. They lost the lead but will this pay off?

They were the boat farther west before they gybed and they are now pretty much in the middle of the fleet 40 nm behind ADOR. Did they want to avoid the islands? Is this move dictated by the weather or a strategic choice to set them up for the light wind ahead?

We have another 250 miles of good wind before another transition in light winds. We have to get this one right as time is running out to get to Auckland. It’s turning into a fantastic race and with light winds forecast for the end it will surely be a nail biter, says Ian Walker.

Leader: ADOR
Wind Speed: 13-21
Boat speed SOG (15 mins): 13-19 knots
Wind direction: 275º – 286º
Lowest boat speed: TBRU (14,6 knots)
Highest boat speed: ALVI (17,9 knots)
Lowest wind speed: ADOR (13 knots)
Highest wind speed: ALVI (21 knots)

Position report at:22 Feb 06:40 UTC

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