VOR leaders stung by last of Doldrums

BEN GLADWELL - BOATING NZ
Last updated 12:27 02/05/2012
Camper
Camper with ETNZ
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand continues to whittle away the advantage of current leg leaders Puma as they make their way out of the Doldrums en-route to Miami from Itajai in leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race

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As the fleet makes its way out of the calm waters of the Doldrums, on the way from Itajai to Miami, the first three boats are separated by just 5.8 nautical miles. Puma, who once held a lead of 30nm, have seen their advantage disappear in just 24 hours as Camper and Telefonica raced up behind them. At one point the gap between first and third place was closed to just 2.8 nm.

As is typical in the Doldrums, the boats following behind often make huge gains in short periods of time, as boats ahead are unable to avoid light patches of air. Despite their best efforts, Ken Read's crew were powerless to stop the charge of the chasing boats, who were making the best of squally conditions. After trying almost every possible sail combination, the Americans were forced to sit and watch, completely becalmed with only the main sail hoisted, as their competitors easily sailed up to their transom.

Puma MCM Amory Ross writes, "We still hate clouds. We hate them - even the pretty ones. They ruin our days and plague out nights and they've just done it again. One massive, unavoidable green glob on the radar and an ominously dark splotch on the horizon indicate imminent doom. Nothing can prepare you for the gut-wrenching conclusion once its run its course and stolen your wind, hopes and in this case, your hard-fought lead."

Puma were fortunate to stay in front, and were therefore the first to break into the freshening trade winds that awaited the fleet on the northern side of the convergence zone. They have now eked out a lead of 2.2nm over Camper, who is also now into the trades and sneaking out to an advantage of 5.8nm over Telefonica.

Some 76 miles behind the front-runners, Abu Dhabi holds a lead of 7nm over Groupama, who now appear to be over their speed issues from earlier in the race. The French entrants have made good ground against the leaders, cutting their deficit from 150nm to 83nm in the last two days.

VOR meteorologist Gonzalo Infante reports that there is a large high pressure system lying in wait for the crews, which should bring the trade winds towards the south-east, meaning down-wind conditions who are further east. Camper would benefit from setting themselves up to be as far east as possible in relation to the the other boats, as they have shone in downwind conditions, yet have struggled on a tight-reaching course against the Juan K designed boats.

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Leg 6 Itjai to Miami, Positions at 10am (NZ Time May 2)

1.      Puma - boatspeed 14.4 knots, distance to finish 2218 nm

2.      Camper - boatspeed 13.9 knots, distance to leader 2.2 nm, distance to finish 2220 nm

3.      Telefonica - boatspeed 14.3 knots, distance to leader 5.8 nm, distance to finish 2224 nm

4.      Abu Dhabi - boatspeed 13.4 knots, distance to leader 76 nm, distance to finish 2294 nm

5.      Groupama - boatspeed 13.9 knots, distance to leader 83 nm, distance to finish 2301 nm

6.      Sanya - DNS

- © Fairfax NZ News

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