Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Auckland to Fiji : TeamVodafoneSailing en route to Musket Cove

On board TeamVodafoneSailing. Image copyright Chris Lewis.

by Zoe Hawkins

1600 NZST Tuesday, 7th June

The first 48 hours of the New Zealand International Yachting Trust Auckland to Musket Cove Ocean Race have been ultra frustrating for TeamVodafoneSailing, which is now sailing at a boatspeed of about 5 knots, on a heading of 000 degrees.

First up, heavy conditions led to a delayed race start that cost the fast boat the opportunity to get a jump on very light conditions.

Then, because of the boat’s extreme performance characteristics, they opted to sail well East of the rest of the fleet.

“We saw very good gains by going East at the start of the race,” says weather expert Jon Bilger of “Initially the two PredictWind forecasts and the CMC forecast had the high moving slowly off to the east.”

At this point, they knew it was a risky strategy but hoped that TeamVodafoneSailing could catch the edge of the high – but the high moved off slightly quicker than expected.

“TeamVodafone has outstanding speed when reaching in light to moderate wind, whilst Camper is very quick upwind in light winds. We discussed it was a risk to leave the rest of the fleet, but as TeamVodafone has such different performance characteristics it would be worth the risk to sail their own race,” says Bilger.

The rest of the fleet, including the new Volvo 70, Camper, now about 100nm in front of TeamVodafoneSailing, chose to sail the direct north Rhumbline course. Bilger says that the same routing program and forecast also showed this to be the best option for these boats.

The light, upwind conditions have been ideal for Camper, but are expected to change very soon.

The nine sailors onboard TeamVodafoneSailing include Owner and Skipper Simon Hull, Boat Captain Kevin Peet, Navigator Patrick O'Reilly, Paul (Casper) Murray, Stu (Disco) MacKinven, Ollie Scott-Mackie, Selby Howard, Paul O'Reilly, and Guy Hewson.

Fiji is the boat’s first stop in an offshore calendar that will take in the Sydney to Gold Coast Race, the RQYC Brisbane to Keppel Race, the Airlie Beach Race Week, and Hamilton Island Race Week, before TeamVodafoneSailing returns to New Zealand for the Coastal Classic and the New Zealand summer racing season.

TeamVodafoneSailing is also supported by Line 7,, Seatrade, Fusion, Harken, Fineline, B&G, Steinlager, Safety at Sea and Wilde Media.