Published: Friday, 13 March 2015

Cyclone Pam caused another postponement for the Leg 5 departure of the Volvo Ocean Race as organisers announced on Friday, Mar 13 that the fleet would not leave Auckland for Itajaí, Brazil, until Tuesday at the earliest.

Delayed Race Start For Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5

The cyclone has already racked up winds of 200km per hour causing a delay in the departure in the six-strong fleet, which was originally due to embark on the 6,776-nautical mile journey on Sunday, March 15.

The storm was on a collision course with the fleet shortly after they were due to leave the New Zealand city.

Delayed Race Start For Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5 1

Race CEO Knut Frostad told a press conference in Auckland on Friday that there was no choice but to hold up the start of a leg, which was already likely to be the toughest in the nine-month, 38,739nm marathon event.

Frostad had previously announced on Mar 12 that the fleet would not leave until Mar 16 at the earliest.

“This weather is very rare for the race, and for New Zealand,” he says. “We will not start the leg until Tuesday and will probably look at an afternoon start or in the evening. That’s our current plan.” Organisers will give a final decision by 1800 local time on Mar 15.

Delayed Race Start For Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5 2

The fleet’s skippers in the press conference backed the decision to keep the yachts in port for at least an extra two days.

The race organisers emphasised that the New Zealand Herald In-Port Race was still scheduled to go ahead on Mar 14 at 1400 and they hoped that a sizeable audience of Auckland’s sailing-loving residents would attend.

The In-Port series is a tie-breaker for the overall trophy and is currently splitting first and second Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) and Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), and fourth and fifth (Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and Mapfre (Iker Martínez/ESP).

Delayed Race Start For Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5 3

Additionally, they plan a similar length, in-port race for charity on Sunday at 1400 local time, when the winners will be awarded NZ$10,000 by the event, which they can donate to a cause of their choice.

Frostad emphasised that with Cyclone Pam bearing down on Auckland, that event was subject to cancellation, but was an attempt to give the city’s sailing fans and sponsors an extra dose of action. A final decision will be made no later than 1800 on Saturday.