Sunday, 10 December 2017

A stormy start of VolvoOceanRace Leg 3

A strong SE wind is expected for the Start of the VolvoOceanRace (VOR) Leg 3 from Cape Town to Melbourne. This is called The Cape Doctor, a wind that strikes over the Table Mountain and is strong as it accelerate between the different mountains particularly for this wind direction. [it is called the doctor, as it cleans the city of the bad air pollution]

Cape Town Start circuit Leg 3
The Start circuit looks rather short, so the Boats will in no time have left Cape Town to look for the best routes through the Southern Ocean. The Boats will be eager to win this one, as the winner will most likely be the first to turn East around Cape of Good Hope towards the Finish, where for this Leg the Winner gets double points.

The Start will be broadcasted live on the VOR Website, from about 11:50 UTC onwards. 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Dongfeng wins Cape Town In-Port Race with confidence

The wind for the In-Port Race in Cape Town was good for delivering an outstanding race. The winds were strong, and  not too shifty as feared, just a little that brought the icing on the cake.

close battles in Cape Town In-Port race.

 The Boats started well , except for Mapfre that made a terrible bad start with even a tack ahead of the start line before crossing it as last Boat.
Vestas was leading after the start, shortly followed by Dongfeng, Akzo and Brunel. 
However Vestas did not get a proper furl halfway the race ,which bite them later as their A3 sail did not open properly on the last leg. This caused them to loose 2 positions in the End.

Dongfeng made a steady gain by clean strategic optimal sailing and took the lead halfway, not to let it slip till Victory was theirs.

Mapfre gained also  steady and in the end could climb to the 2nd place , closely followed by AkzoNobel. 

Clean Seas sailed a solid race, starting well but falling back a little, but could just stay ahead of Brunel, that had a strong last leg. 
Brunel started well, but got in a battle situation with HunSungKai,  which led to a penalty for the last Boat, but maybe also disadvantaged Brunel.

Now the Boats have a day to prepare for the long Leg 3 to Melbourne, through the Southern Oceans, with traditional strong, stormy winds and huge waves. 

Start for Leg 3 in Cape Town on Sunday 10 December , 1200 UTC.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

VOR continues with Cape Town In-Port Race

Friday 8th December at 1200 UTC, the VolvoOceanRace (VOR) will continue with a short In-Port race in Cape Town. 
The wind forecast indicates a South--South-East wind of about 10Kts, which would allow for a nice challenging race. However it might be a little flaky as the wind will approach from over the city and the Table mountain. Strategy might thus be important for taking advantages , where it can be done.

Cape Town In-Port race parcours

As normal, the race is expected to be shown live on the internet , just keep an eye on the VOR website.

The Boats, that had arrived without major damage in Cape Town, have all been out of the water for a thorough inspection before starting the adventure of Leg 3 through the Southern Ocean towards Melbourne. Expect the Boats in top condition, whereas the sailors have had a nice rest to be as fit as possible, to battle it out again.

Prepare yourselves for the Leg 3 start on Sunday  10 December at 1200 UTC.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Mapfre wins VolvoOceanRace Leg 2 in Cape Town

Mapfre wins the VOR Leg 2 Lisbon to Cape Town!

Mapfre sailing the last miles into Cape Town
Mapfre sailed strong during the whole Leg 2 , but it was till Dongfeng made an error sailing to close to the St. Helene High, that Mapfre could take the lead and did not look back. Well actually they did look back a lot, as wind systems were stable but not that stable to be sure of the Victory already. However none of the other Boats could find a faster route to Cape Town. 
With this win, it is also Mapfre that takes the lead in the Overall Ranking, see the details in Tab Scorecard above.

For more detailed information, daily reviews, video's , preview and review of Leg 2 see the Tabs above. 

The weather was friendly during Leg 2, making this a fast Leg 2. Leaving Lisbon, a strong northerly wind helped the Boats sailing fast south , where tradewinds were nice to push them into the Doldrums. The Doldrums were very friendly, this time,as if they did not exist the Boats could easily reach into the southerly tradewinds. The St. Helene High, kept hidden a little behind a strong depression that took the Boats across the southern Atlantic, the southerly Boats the most. After which the High still was there to assist for a good sail into Cape Town.

Last days , I hear a lot comment on the good chance for the Overall Win for the Boat that finishes first in Cape Town. If that holds , than Mapfre is in for a good result in this edition of VOR 2017-2018.

Stealth mode, you may have missed some Boats at times on the daily reports; each Boat could go into Stealth mode, not visible for other Boats and the public, for max. 24 hours and only one time in a Leg. Purpose is to make an un-expected route change to surprise the other Boats and win miles on them. This time however , stealth did not work out that way: Clean Seas in stealth did not gain, Brunel in stealth, lost from 2nd to  the 4th place, SunHungKai lost from 5th to 7th, while close to the end Vestas and Dongfeng got there stealth without any advances. Maybe the weather this time did not allow for alternative strategies, but at least the Boats have felt what it is to be in Stealth mode.

Later AkzoNobel made it to the 5th place while keeping ahead of the 2 battling Boats. 
SunHungKai manager to  make a last millage jump on Clean Seas and took 6th place with a minute to spare on Clean Seas.

Next events will be the Cape Town In-Port race on 8th December and the Start of Leg 3 Cape Town to Melbourne on 10th December. 

Friday, 17 November 2017

VolvoOceanRace steps up its Media reporting

What is the largest change this edition to former editions of VolvoOceanRace?

Not so much the Boats. The VO65 One-Design boat was already used last time and intended for 3 VOR editions.
Not so much Ladies sailing the VOR. Last edition there was a ladies Boat, SCA and this time indeed not a full ladies boat but all Boats have a mixed gender crew albeit in different percentages.
Not so much the route, as the VOR fleet , still sails East wards around the Globe, be it that this version spend some more miles in the Southern Ocean.

It is, in my view, the Media coverage of the VOR.
The positive aspects from this is dramatic more information on the race, analyses of weather etc. 

VOR race status

Where last VOR edition, there was a lack on decent race information, and many people complaining, me included. The VOR did not have a daily progress show, did not have weather forecasts let alone leg reviews, to explain a little the chosen strategies of boats and how the winner made there Victory. Luckily there was Mark Chisnell on the B&G website with a regular review and preview of the Leg.
This edition , however, is full of information. The In-Port race are fully live broadcasted on Internet and still available in the Video library  or on Youtube; links available under the above Tab "Video" in my blog.
Also commentary with some sailing details to explain, choices from skippers and explanation on favorable tracks. 
Same applies for the Leg Start circuit. For the Leg's there are details previews of weather systems and probable best routes as well as detailed reviews of a Leg. Fantastic information that helps us skippers at the wall, or armchair virtual sailors understand the finesses of Ocean Sailing. 

Daily there is a Daily Live show at 1300UTC, with status of the race, preview of wind systems, explanation by specialists of issues that have an impact on the sailing speed, e.g. the effects of a rain shower on the wind, and some reports from the crews on board the Boat. And a short Quick Fix at 800 UTC
On Twitter there are regular , race status updates by the "race experts" with each 6 hrs a fresh location and tracking update. 
On top of that, some very good Leg previews and reviews made by Mark Chisnell with very detailed and good explained information on how and why the Boats sailed as they did, and explaining the reasons for a Leg Victory.

Also the VOR website has improved on the information on the race; last edition I wrote  to them already to improve on that as the VOR in the end is a Sailing Race. The Dashboard gives with a tracker a good view on boats positions , tracks sailed and since some days even a router to tell which is the best route for the Boats to the Finish. Also  detailed tables with ranking, DTL, distance to Leader, gain/losses, course , speed , VMG and other real wind info. Very Good. 

The Boats themselves also make a lot of video and audio reports. All in all a lot to view and read and for interested people to get clued to the performances till the Finish.

A minor negative aspect from this extra media attention, was the extension during Leg 1, in order to delay the arrival in Lisbon to come closer to the original publish arrival time. Only now I hope that VOR management does not do this every or most coming Leg Finishes.  

There is one thing that I would like to improve, still. 
Nowhere is the information given on the location of the Boats, I mean the Longitude and Latitude during the regular status reports; this could easily be added to the windows that open while clicking on a Boat. Ok, you can make a kind of work around, by looking in the tracker with the grid engaged, but still.

VOR go on, this will make the armchair sailors happy.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Donfeng enjoys a good Start in VOR Leg 2

It was a flying Start from our Flying Dutchman, on Brunel, in the Lisbon Leg 2 start, where Mapfre, Clean Seas and AkzoNobel were slow over the line.

Brunel changed shortly later to a larger sail, only to see Dongfeng and Vestas passing them; so again a sail change to combat them.

Donfeng already leading under the bridge

On the rounding it was Dongfeng 1st, Vestas 2nd and Brunel 3rd. 
In the downwind leg, it showed that now Vestas had hoisted a sail too large to develop the necessary speed; they dropped to the end of the Fleet.

The winds were strong, a little patchy here and there though. Dongfeng was the 1st to sail into the Atlantic followed closely by Brunel, starting their 7000 Nm to Cape Town. Some highlights of Helicopter views.

The forecast is strong northerly breeze for the next days, making big progress towards Canary Islands.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Start VolvoOceanRace Leg 2: Lisbon to Cape Town

Today Sunday 5 November 2017 at 1400 UTC will be the Start of VolvoOceanRace Leg 2.

The wind forecast is strong winds possibly upto 20 kts.

The Leg will start with the Boats having to sail a start circuit close to Lisbon, which looking at the wind conditions and the perfect show in the In-Port Race yesterday, will be an exciting and challenging event. The starter circuit is said to be an upward stretch on the river Tagus till the Lisbon city, before heading out to the Atlantic. 

As normal, the Starter circuit sailing will be live on internet via the VolvoOceanRace website and starting around 13:45 UTC

The Leg 2 course has no further Marks to sail around. The Navigators have all freedom to choose the best route to Cape Town. Will this make it easier or not?
With all the freedom, I hope that we see some split in the strategies to make it a real race of opponents, rather than a long line of Boats one after the other.

A preview of conditions on route can be read here: Leg 2 Preview