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Volvo Ocean Race: Exciting times in uncertain weather conditions

14/12/2011
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After a difficult night traversing the Agulhas Current, four of the fleet of six boats are now free of it, while Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Sanya Lan (Mike Sanderson/NZL) have yet to make their escape. With the weather in the Agulhas zone set to worsen these two should complete their crossing in the next few hours.

According to weather experts, the fleet will continue to battle with the effects of a thermal low-pressure system south of Africa, which is being intensified by a cold front moving from the west.

The fleet has split in two around this new weather system. New leg leader, Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is positioned to the north of the pack, theoretically well placed to sail fast angles should the two low-pressure systems merge to form an easterly moving cold front.

If this happens Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing along with PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA), CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) and Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA could enjoy strong west southwest winds which will propel them quickly in the right direction.

However the low-pressure system is proving sluggish and unstable and has not moved as predicted to the southeast. Instead it has remained quite static and last night the fleet was close to the centre of this system that produced huge gusts and big rainsqualls.

Further north if Telefónica gets ahead of the system before it starts to move, Iker Martínez and his team will have strong north-northeasterly winds which could give them a perfect angle to power over the southern pack.

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