Shaving the Moroccan coast

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing a nose ahead as boats pass Agadir

Wednesday October 15th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Image above courtesy of Expedition and Predictwind

This morning finds the Volvo Ocean Race fleet off the Moroccan city of Agadir. Over the last 24 hours crews have been attempting to stay in the best of the breeze and this has involved struggling their way down a small corridor immediately off the Moroccan coast. Typically the boats have been as little as a couple of miles from the African coast and no more than around 15 miles - any further offshore and the wind gets lighter and lighter.

Surprisingly given the forecast the boats have made reasonable progress, having made roughly 190 miles down the race track in the last 24 hours.

As the boats have gybed have way down the coast, what has been impressive and testament to the closeness of the racing, is just how often the lead has been changing. Yesterday morning Alvimedica was ahead offshore and Brunel leading the charge inshore. By lunchtime MAPFRE had nosed ahead, then Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing by late afternoon, before Alvimedica almost made a break to the west early evening. Unfortunately mid-evening the breeze faded before filling in from the north/northeast. Over the course of this morning, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has been back in front but by just a nose ahead of Dongfeng Race Team. The wind is currently in the north and surprisingly is stronger than forecast - around 10-12 knots allowing the boats to make decent progress. Small gains and losses are being made as the crews attempt to get out of sync with their gybes - at present for example Brunel is some 18 miles to the east of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

Over the course of the next day, the boats will be attempting to make it down to the passage between the Canary Islands and the African coast. Lanzarote is currently 162 miles away from Lanzarote. At present the crews are in the frustrating situation of getting headed regardless of the gybe they're on. The forecast (for what it's worth) has the wind going soft again around lunchtime today before filling in from the north and slowly clocking right into the northeast by tonight - so more sailing dead downwind. The forecast has the wind shutting down again tomorrow to the east of the Canaries and it doesn't look like the fleet will be vaguely out of the woods until tomorrow night.

Corinna Halloran reported from Team SCA: "Today was a special day. Not only are we all sailing together as a fleet -and pushing each other as a fleet - down the west coast of Africa after an unexpected great day of sailing, Today is incredibly special because we begin to finally fall into a rhythm and a daily life.

Our body begins to get used to sleeping in bursts - two hours at most, despite our four hours on/ four hours off schedule. A few of the sailors noted they haven’t had a full off watch, because they’ve been woken up because of a tack, sail change, or both at least once every time they tried to go to sleep. Obviously this can do a number on your body, and for a while your body feels like it’s fighting your mind every step of the way. And then, as if a light bulb finally switches ‘on’ for your body: you begin to feel comfortable sleeping in short bursts and operating on little amounts of sleep. Today, that light bulb turned on.

Today, the crew have stopped harassing Libby for any new information about the fleet because everyone knows the “scheds” arrive at 1:15am/pm and 7:15am/pm.

Today, we all began to adjust to the life of freeze-dried food and power bars. Today’s dinner is our favorite: Thai Green Chicken Curry. Today, I ate my last fresh orange for 20 more days. The orange wasn't even that good but I savored every bite nonetheless, and hoped I would not drop the last slice into the sea.

Today, was a good day to use our TENA shower glove. If there's one massive advantage Team SCA has over the other teams, it's this: a shower. Ok so there's no running fresh water and our hair is sticking straight back but to feel clean after a few days of salt and sweat is an indescribable joy. It's also a good day to change clothes and check your body for any bumps, bruises, and rashes that might cause infection down the line.

Today, we also saw dolphins. And we sailed by Team Mapfre so close we were able to say hello—quite friendly considering. I reckon they’re having just as good a day as us. After all, there’s something special about day four.

Latest Comments

  • gjwkay 15/10/2014 - 14:42

    Finally, someone actually reporting on the race and not the dolphins..... Bravo Mr Boyd

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