Sunday, 22 February 2009

VOR: Mind The Gaps!

Ericsson 3 crew working onboard Ericsson 3 en route to Rio de Janeiro on Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

In the past 24 hours gaps have started to appear all over the leaderboard and on the 2D Race Viewer as navigators hone their angles for The Doldrums.

The front-runners, Ericsson 4 and PUMA, are midway between the Islands of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International dateline and still north of the equator.

With 2,500 miles of this 12,300 marathon covered, Ericsson 4 has stretched its advantage over PUMA to 50 miles, a loss for PUMA of over 40 miles in the last 24 hours. Ericsson 3 has also lost ground and now has a deficit of 101 miles.

Telefonica Blue slipped past Green Dragon yesterday and leads her by 15 miles, although the Dragon has gambled on a more easterly route. The backmarkers are over 270 miles adrift of E4.

Wind shifts have not helped Telefonica Blue’s cause. Skipper Bouwe Bekking wrote: “The wind has shifted dramatically and we are having a way worse angle than the leading boats.

"The bungee cord is now again working for them, and probably in two days’ time it will go our way again. As I speak, we are back to how it was on the previous days, spray flying everywhere in 18 knots of breeze. The person who said the Pacific was all about sunshine, beaches and gentle breezes got it wrong, at least for this year.”

Due to a major satellite repositioning and upgrade, weather and other information is limited for a short period on this leg. Ericsson 4 navigator Jules Salter revealed in an email this morning that he had resorted to an old school weather fax.

“With our T&T radio set up, we can get weather maps from the sky,” he says. “Reception is not digital, but there is a pleasure in receiving a slightly blurred weather map from the airwaves as you hear the tone come in over the SSB radio.

The trip down memory lane will be short-lived as the weather fax will be put away in a few hours as Inmarsat’s Fleet 33, the backup system to Inmarsat Fleet Broadband, becomes operational again.

Although slower than Fleet Broadband – which debuts on this event and offers HD TV to the race – the system is able to provide most of what the navigators need to pick their way through The Doldrums. The full system will be back in operation in three days’ time.

Bekking is pragmatic about the situation. “It’s one of these things that you learn over the years. Do not get too upset about things you do not have control over, especially if it is the same for all the other boats,” he said.

Damian Foxall receives Irish sailing honour

There was some celebration on Green Dragon with the news overnight that watch captain Damian Foxall had been named Irish Sailor Of The Year.

Volvo Ocean Race

No comments: