(February 20, 2018; Day 14) – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is facing another 48 hours of excruciating sailing as the teams plugged deeper into a massive expanse of windless ocean today.
Lying ahead of them is a 400-mile gulf that stretches as far south as New Caledonia, severely hampering progress, and with the finish line in Auckland still more than 1,500 miles away, a glance at the forecast provides little relief with no sign of breeze materialising in the short term.
As well as battling the elements, the fights on the water have become personal, with the six teams splitting into pairs, essentially forming three mid-ocean match races.
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and team AkzoNobel, which have led the fleet since February 16, now face the charge by Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team Brunel, positioned 50 nm further east and roaring along at twice the speed. Watching and worrying are MAPFRE and Dongfeng, due north of the others and only drifting along.
The cause of the giant wind hole is a huge storm – Gita – currently battering the south island of New Zealand that has killed the trade winds, allowing the Doldrums to swell to epic proportions.
“It feels like we are in three match races, we’re just are not sure who is playing the finals, who is playing the semi-finals and who is playing for the wooden spoon,” observes Turn the Tide on Plastic skipper Dee Caffari.