CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 18 – Volvo Ocean Race sailors set out again for the open seas on Wednesday with no piracy activity on their radar, but the threat of cyclones ahead on Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.
Cape Town port comes to rest on the last night before Leg 2 to Abu Dhabi. Photo courtesy Volvo Ocean Race
Sailing conditions in Cape Town look challenging for the 1800 start (local time)/1600 UTC, with plenty of wind, but flat seas forecast.
Then the seven-strong fleet heads for the south Indian Ocean past Mauritius and there the sailing will become even more interesting.
The Volvo Ocean Race’s meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante, explains: “We have just started the tropical cyclone season in the south Indian Ocean and it seems like we will have plenty of this activity for this leg.
“One tropical cyclone is forecast to be in the area just before the fleet reaches these latitudes, but forecasts need to be confirmed. Obviously, the weather will be key – if it’s possible to use it or keep out of its influence.”
To add to the spice, there are monsoon winds from the Gulf awaiting the fleet before it enters the Hormuz Straits, and probable scorching weather in Abu Dhabi in early December.
Infante and Race Control have issued a spread of 22 to 28 days for the 6,125 nautical mile (nm) stage.
Unlike in Leg 2 2011-12, the fleet will not be shipped part of the way for security reasons. Dryad Maritime, the Race’s offshore security experts, have given Race Director, Jack Lloyd, the all-clear to plot a route all the way through.
With all the teams sailing identical boats, it once again promises to be anybody’s leg although the team to beat is undoubtedly Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) who followed up their Leg 1 triumph – by a mere 12 minutes from Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) – with victory in the Cape Town in-port race on Saturday.
The latter win puts them three points clear in the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series after two races.
At the other end of the spectrum, MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) have some issues to resolve after the boat surprisingly finished seventh and last for Leg 1.
Martínez has replaced his navigator, bringing in the highly experienced Jean-Luc Nélias (FRA), plus watch leader Rob Greenhalgh (GBR) to change their fortunes.
Dee Caffari (GBR) has her first taste of offshore action on the Team SCA boat, with five Britons on board including skipper Sam Davies. The others are Annie Lush, Libby Greenhalgh and Abby Ehler. Caffari’s entrance was always planned, however, as the team intend to refresh their crew for each leg.