Life In The Fast Lane
Published: Thursday, 12 February 2015
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) have taken a leap of faith with a push north for more wind in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race as the fleet entered the Pacific Ocean on Feb 11.
(Photo by Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race)
The two crews must wait about a week to discover if their tactics to head towards Taiwan – in apparently totally the wrong direction – have paid off. Early indications are that they could earn rich dividends on the 5,264-nautical mile leg from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.
(Photo by Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race)
The pair took a wider arc, further north, after exiting the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and Luzon Island off the Philippines.
The “fast lane” route will see them sail roughly 300nm longer than their four rivals, but they are banking on better wind to propel them clear – eventually.
(Photo by Amory Ross / Team Alvimedia / Volvo Ocean Race)
“So far, the weather models say they have got it right, but it will be six or seven days – or even more – before we know for sure,” says Volvo Ocean Race Meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante.
The fleet will likely converge in the north Pacific Ocean in over a week’s time.
(Photo by Francisco Vignale / Mapfre / Volvo Ocean Race)
“The danger for Team SCA and Team Brunel at that point will be as they enter a stretch of Doldrums, which can be random,” Infante says. “But they could well end up in a very strong position by the time they reach the South Pacific."
The four-strong main pack is currently led by Walker’s second-placed crew, with Mapfre (Xabi Fernández/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and race leaders Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) chasing hard. The boats are grouped within 4nm of each other. They have around 4,700nm to the finish in Auckland, New Zealand.
(Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race)
Mercifully, the sea state, which had been churned up by currents and winds running in roughly opposite directions in the South China Sea causing widespread seasickness, has been somewhat less uncomfortable for the crews in the past 12 hours.
“Imagine being on a roller coaster over 60 hours consecutively – that is more or less the feeling,” says Team Brunel’s onboard reporter, Stefan Coppers. “You want it to stop, but there is no way out.”
(Photo by Sam Greenfield / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race)
The computer predicts that the fleet will arrive in Auckland around Mar 1.