(January 3, 2018; Leg 4; Day 2) – Less than 48 hours into Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, tactics are already starting to show among the seven teams as they do battle along Australia’s eastern coast.
A west to east split of 80 miles has developed as the teams move north of Sydney, with Leg 3 runners up Dongfeng Race Team leading the eastern offshore pack that currently fills the top three positions. Vestas 11th Hour Racing and overall race leaders MAPFRE are committed to the west, some 30 miles off the coast.
With offwind speeds across the fleet sitting at arounds 20 knots, Chris Nicholson, watch captain on team Akzonobel, revealed that the trio to the east are searching for an extra boost from a reverse current.
“We’ve had our eye on an eddy for about a week now, and we always said that if the breeze lined up then it could be an option,” he said. “It’s obviously what Dongfeng, Turn the Tide on Plastic and us have gone for.”
The early pace is set to continue over the coming days as the fleet charges north, powered by favourable breeze resulting from a high pressure system over central Australia and a depression forming over New Zealand.
With such good conditions to look forward to the fleet could reach the Solomon Islands, east of Papua New Guinea, and the notorious Doldrums within a couple of days.
“It’s been non-stop over the last couple of days,” Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Stacey Jackson said. “We’ve been doing some short gybing with all seven boats crossing back and forward. It’s only in the last few hours that we’ve spread out a bit. Time will tell which side will pay.”
Leg 4 – Position Report (20:47 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 4875.9 nm DTF
2. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 7.1 nm DTL
3. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 22.1 nm DTL
4. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Mark Towill (USA), 26.8 nm DTL
5. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 29.0 nm DTL
6. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 40.2 nm DTL
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 45.2 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Leader
Beginning on January 2, Leg 4 is a 5,600 nautical mile race up the east coast of Australia from Melbourne, into the Coral Sea and up north to Hong Kong. The ETA for Hong Kong will be more certain after the boats clear the Doldrums but is penciled in for January 20 to 21.
Overall Results (after 3 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 29 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 23
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 23
4. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 14
5. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 11
6. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 9
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 6
Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.
Source: Volvo Ocean Race