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Volvo Ocean Race: Between a rock and a hard place

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The opening night of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race proved to be a frustrating one for the crews with very little progress made. The fleet is firmly stuck between the rocky South African coast and two low-pressure systems, which have resulted in little or no wind at all. At one stage overnight, overall race leader Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) was forced to anchor to avoid being swept backwards by the powerful current.

The weather situation continues to be very unstable and the breeze is set to become even lighter over the next 20 hours. The fleet has missed the first low-pressure system and the second low, which could produce good breeze, will not evolve fully until at least tomorrow afternoon. The painful waiting game will continue at least until then.

The fleet is currently 20 nautical miles (nm) southeast of the Cape of Good Hope and Ian Walker/GBR, skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam says he spent about 10 hours bobbing up and down looking at the notorious Cape of Good Hope overnight.

“Our main concern has been to not get swept up onto the rocks in the swell as we sit here in no wind,” Ian Walker wrote early this morning. “It has been a very real concern, as we have been unable to sail on port tack away from the shore as this puts us directly bow on to the waves and we get pushed backwards,” he explained.

The leading pair, Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) and CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) now have approximately 12 knots of wind, while the remaining four have less than 10 knots. The fleet is split 17nm first to last.

Decisions will need to be made tomorrow whether to go south and seek the new low forming to the southwest, if there is enough wind to do so, or go east in the hope of meeting another low forming to the northeast. Either option carries a risk and there is no clear strategy as yet.

As Will Oxley, navigator of CAMPER said this morning, “With the wind like it is right now, we might be having Christmas in Africa yet.”

Last modified on Thursday, 12 April 2012 14:15