Volvo Ocean Race: Juan K championship continues

VO70s entering the Azores high with 150 miles to go to the turning mark

Tuesday June 12th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Boat speeds are finally slowing on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race as the fleet enters the Azores high, with the western tip of San Miguel now 158 miles away for leader Telefonica.


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 Telefonica Iker Martinez 36 20.900n 023 08.380w 12.69 294 1302.3 0
2 Groupama Franck Cammas 36 21.600n 023 07.370w 12.51 293 1302.4 0.1
3 Puma Ken Read 36 21.880n 023 03.380w 12.64 294 1304.9 2.6
4 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 36 21.220n 022 52.720w 12.82 292 1312.4 10.1
5 Camper Chris Nicholson 36 15.650n 022 52.420w 13.33 293 1315.7 13.4
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 36 04.480n 022 34.400w 13.58 294 1334 31.7

While the VO70s were making speeds solidly in the high teens throughout yesterday, so, since midnight, these have been dropping progressively with the leaders down to 12-13 knots, their speeds expected to plummet further throughout the day. Over the last 24 hours the boats' courses have been on a gradual arch into the west and are now WNW, although all are still low of the mark.

Out in front are the three Juan K designs with Groupama edging into the lead, slightly to the north of Telefonica, at around 2100 yesterday, but with Telefonica back in front at the latest sched as the two have converged. But it is very very close - with nothing to separate the front duo and with Puma in third ready to pounce, still less than 3 miles behind.

The next 24 hours will be critical. The satellite wind radar image from yesterday afternoon (see below) indicates that there is no wind to the south of Santa Maria, the southeasternmost of the Azores. However the GFS forecast is still indicating the centre of the high easing slowly south over the course of today that could see the boats upwind into light WNWerlies as they approach the turning mark.

Given there is so much at stake - Telefonica are hungry to regain the overall lead they lost coming into Lisbon, Groupama wants to lead the fleet into their homeport of Lorient - it is likely that these two boats will stick together like glue and this could open up opportunities for the rest of the fleet as the fleet compresses with conditions turning soft.

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