Volvo Ocean Race: Back up to cruising speed

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing extends her lead to 78 miles

Monday May 28th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Finally rid of the clutches of the high, so all the VO70s have erred northeast over the last 24 hours and now into a southwesterly flow are making big speeds east. First out of the high yesterday morning, Ian Walker and the crew on Abu Dhabi have extended their lead...but can they hang on to it?

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (GFS model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0655

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon Spd Crs DTF DTL
1 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 42 05.470n 040 09.170w 16.1 93 1419.97 0
2 Puma Kenny Read 42 20.350n 041 56.230w 18.6 87 1498.56 78.59
3 Camper Chris Nicholson 41 50.130n 042 16.600w 19.3 91 1515.41 95.43
4 Sanya Mike Sanderson 41 48.070n 042 19.050w 20.3 91 1517.37 97.4
5 Groupama Franck Cammas 41 34.070n 042 22.000w 20.5 90 1520.62 100.65
6 Telefonica Iker Martinez 41 27.370n 042 21.470w 19.4 90 1520.77 100.8

Leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race has taken on a very different complexition over the last 24 hours. While Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was first out of the clutches of the high yesterday and over the course of yesterday afternoon extended her lead to 65 miles over second placed Puma, boat speeds returned to double figures at lunchtime (UTC) for the rest of the fleet and are now over 20 knots.

While overall race leaders Telefonica and Groupama have been locked in their own private match race to the south with Camper ahead of them, they followed the rest of the fleet northeast yesterday evening.

Sanya's flier to the north, which they embarked upon on Saturday, has paid dividends. She gybed east shortly before 0900 yesterday morning to converge with the rest of the fleet and this morning is up to fourth place, on the transom of third placed Camper.

Leader Abu Dhabi took a long long gybe to the northeast through most of yesterday, only gybing back to the southeast at around 1930 UTC. Over last night she extended her lead to 78 miles.

Since around 2300 UTC last night the boats have converged, all now heading east on starboard gybe in the southwesterlies being generated ahead of the front to their west associated with the substantial depression to their north. However while most of the fleet are making more than 20 knots, Abu Dhabi has slowed slightly as she falls out of the strongest band of winds ahead of the front. This may allow those astern to close the gap on her slightly until the depression and the front start tracking east today. It looks likely, if the GFS forecast is to be believed, that the front could well pass over the boats tonight with the exception of Abu Dhabi who may well be able to pile yet more miles on over those chasing. 

But what the navigators on board will be keeping a keen eye on is the path of the violent depression that will hopefully pass astern of them on Wednesday. This intense depression is still forecast as having 60-70 knot winds around its perimeter. The depression (see below) is forecast to track north around 150 miles west of Abu Dhabi's present position.

This is how it will look at 1350 UTC on Wednesday.

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