Strait of Hormuz

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing moves up to second, but then loses it again in the Volvo Ocean Race

Friday December 12th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

This morning the Volvo Ocean Race leaders entered the Strait of Hormuz between Oman and Iran, the mouth to the Persian/Arabian Gulf.

Thanks to the wind never rising above 8 knots, it has taken the leaders the best part of two days to sail up the Gulf of Oman. Over this time, Ian Walker and the crew of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have been 'mixing it up', desperately fighting back in an attempt to improve on their present third place, caused when Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team chose to split from the UAE team and head east earlier in the week, causing them to pull 20-30 miles ahead. 

Having passed Muscat in the early hours of yesterday morning (UTC) and still 25 miles astern at this point, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing chose to get out of phase with her tacks in comparison to the lead duo, instead choosing a course north closer to the Omani coast. Yesterday afternoon this looked very promising, as the boats offshore were becalmed allowing ADOR to close to within 8 miles of the leader (in terms of DTF) at 1530 UTC and then up to second place , 2.9 miles astern of Team Brunel at 1830. Unfortunately overnight as the three boats converged once again, it was ADOR's turn to run into a hole and at the latest sched she has dropped back to being 20.6 miles astern of leader Team Brunel with 205 miles left to sail, according to the official figures.

For the leaders conditions look set to remain light until they reach the top of the Musandam Peninsula (on the south side of the Strait) when the wind is forecast to fill in from the east, ie a rich get richer scenario, not good for Walker.

Image above courtesy of Expedition and Predictwind

Meanwhile the match race between Team Alvimedica and MAPFRE is now being held directly off the Omani capital Muscat, with MAPFRE in particular little more than one mile offshore. At present in this battle, the Turkish-American boat remains two miles ahead but as we have seen with the race ahead of them there are enough vagaries in the wind that this is meaningless. One hopes that Charlie Enright's crew does the smart thing and simply covers MAPFRE.

Matt Knighton writes from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: If you could’ve seen all eight faces on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing when the 1300 position report arrived today you would’ve see sixteen eyes wide open with anxiousness turn into eight broad smiles of elation.  The tension of the past three days disappeared…we sailed 20 miles further than the leaders and were drawing even to get back in the race! Seriously, people (namely Adil) did a few dance moves on deck.

After the previous day’s skeds, our routings hadn’t been optimistic - it seemed increasingly likely we would need a miracle from Mother Nature to survive. However, as the sun came up and we split closer to the Omani coast - that’s exactly what happened.

Ian, Justin, and Adil were on the bow of Azzam, elbows propped up on the stack of sails staring over the flat water when the wind started to fill in. It was much more than anticipated – 9 knots. You always assume it’s a just a quick gust that soon will die out. This one held for the next 11 hours.

It was as if Adil had called up the local wind machine. He predicted that at 0900 we would get the sea breeze as we drew closer to shore.  Sure enough, we could’ve set our watches to it.

There were no waves on the water, just sea breeze and a solid gradient from the east shooting us along the glassy waters into dusk. After four hours, the position report showed that we had sailed an average of eleven knots to the others three.

Now, there’s a magnificent star show out as that strong wind is beginning to soften.  Chuny is on the bow doing what looks like a 70’s dance routine communicating sail trim to Daryl at the helm with hand signals.

Azzam keeps slicing through the water….we’re hoping they’re drifting out there.

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