Please select your home edition
Craftinsure 2012

Fleet likely to compress as light winds block the way in Volvo Ocean Race Leg 1

by Volvo Ocean Race on 24 Oct 24 October 2017

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet was punching into the Atlantic on Tuesday after surviving their first test from the weather gods through the Gibraltar Strait overnight.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing still occupy the top spot after a challenging first 50 hours of the opening leg from Alicante, Spain, to Lisbon, Portugal, that has seen them dominate the leaderboard over their six rivals.

At one point skipper Charlie Enright's crew stretched out their advantage to more than 27 miles as they were catapulted out of the Strait by following winds gusting as high as 35 knots.

"We had a good night overnight, getting fired out of the Gibraltar jet," Vestas 11th Hour Racing navigator Simon 'SiFi' Fisher said. "We were happy to wake up to see that all of the boats are behind us and mostly on our line."

However that lead has started to be whittled away as the frontrunners reach painfully light winds blocking their path south west as they point for the turning mark at Porto Santo in the Madeira Islands.

Although Vestas 11th Hour Racing still have a comfortable 19-nautical-mile buffer, the 1300 UTC position report revealed that speeds on the blue boat have dropped to an excruciating 1.7 knots.

Meanwhile Spanish crew MAPFRE, the real winners overnight rocketing from fourth to second, were making 11.4 knots – the fastest in the fleet – from their position as the northernmost boat.

MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernandez worked his team hard through the night, putting in 11 gybes to stay within a narrow band of pressure.

The effort paid off, and MAPFRE were able to overhaul both Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and team Akzonobel.

"It was tough conditions with winds up to 35 knots, and we had to throw in some gybes," explained MAPFRE navigator Joan Vila. "Right now we are waiting for the shift to gybe to port, and then we know it will become very tricky and light. To be honest, anything can still happen in this leg."

In stark contrast to the past 24 hours of full-on downwind action the breeze is forecast to drop to less than seven knots and swing 180 degrees, resulting in the fleet sailing upwind in light wind mode.

Lying between them and Porto Santo is an enormous wind hole 100 nautical miles wide which the navigators must carefully pick their way through.

It is highly likely to have a concertina effect on the fleet whereby any gains made thus far are largely wiped out as the fleet compresses.

That's bad news for the leaders but will be welcomed by the likes of Dongfeng Race Team, Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team Brunel further back down the track.

Turn the Tide on Plastic boat captain Liz Wardley said they were happy to have just made it through their first big breeze test in one piece.

"It got pretty hairy last night and we ended up with 36, 37 knots of breeze downwind gybing through the Strait, avoiding the traffic separation zone," she said. "But we got through it pretty well mid fleet, and now the breeze is slowly dying out. In a few hours' time we're probably going to have a very different breeze of five to seven knots. We've had a few transitions to go through and we're just crawling back into the fleet now after a few losses last night. We've got good speed on the guys around us so we're looking good."

The fleet might be slowing down but the action is just heating up.

Leg 1 Position Report at 13:00 UTC:

1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (813.3 nautical miles to finish)
2. MAPFRE +19.7nm
3. team AkzoNobel + 21.9nm
4. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +29.7nm
5. Dongfeng Race Team +30.8nm
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic +32.4nm
7. Team Brunel +32.5nm

Land Rover BAR Cap
REPORT OF THE MONTH SPONSORED BY Report of the Month sponsored by Henri Lloyd Nominate this article for report of the month for your chance to WIN a Land Rover BAR Cap for yourself and the author of the report that receives the most votes. Just fill in the form below!
Your name

Your email address

Why do you like this report?

Related Articles

Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 17
Temperatures falling as race heats up The second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race might be entering its final few days but the final positions are far from decided. Posted on 21 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 16
Temperature falling; wind increasing; stealth mode in play The week has started off at full-speed; temperatures are plummeting in the South Atlantic, speeds are up, and one of the leading boats has engaged Stealth Mode... Posted on 20 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 15
Pressure coming on While it may be a relaxed Sunday for many around the world, that is surely not the case for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet battling for position in the South Atlantic. Posted on 19 Nov
Tour the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard
Guided by Neil Cox, Boatyard Manager Go behind the scenes on a tour guided by Neil Cox, Boatyard Manager for the Volvo Ocean Race. Posted on 18 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 14
Weekend warriors prepare for battle Those following the rankings and tracker for the Volvo Ocean Race could be forgiven for thinking they'd glanced away for more than one of the six-hour position reports. Posted on 18 Nov
Behind the Hardware
Volvo Ocean Race Start in Alicante The story of the team behind the hardware continues. Enjoy this recap from our Tech Team on the ground for the Volvo Ocean Race Start in Alicante. Posted on 18 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 13
A crucial 24 hours ahead A 130 nautical mile lateral split has opened up in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Friday as the teams trade off better wind with shorter distance in a bid to get to Cape Town first. Posted on 17 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 12
A roll of the dice in the South Atlantic The first big gamble for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet since crossing the Equator was playing out on Thursday as team AkzoNobel lined up to 'cut the corner' in a bid to overhaul the leading quartet to their southwest... Posted on 16 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 11
Halfway home and race to Cape Town enters a new phase The seven international teams all now have less than 3,200 nautical miles left in the 7,000-mile stage from the Portugal capital of Lisbon to Cape Town, South Africa. Posted on 15 Nov
DAME Award again
We speak to Drue Kerr, Senior Designer at Zhik We caught up with Drue Kerr, Senior Designer at Zhik, who have just won the DAME Award in the clothing category for their Isotak X Ocean range. Posted on 15 Nov