Next stop – Cape Town, as Dongfeng Race Team lead the Volvo Ocean Race fleet out of Lisbon
(Scroll down for Leg 2 updates)
Start of Leg 2. Day 1 from Lisbon to Cape Town. 05 November 2017: The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is charging into a challenging first night at sea with winds over 30-knots forecast...
Start of Leg 2. Day 1 from Lisbon to Cape Town. ©Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
Dongfeng Race Team converted a strong start into an early lead as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet embarked on Leg 2, a 7,000 nautical mile race from Lisbon to Cape Town. Conditions were perfect for the leg start, with bright blue skies, and a 15-20 knot Northerly breeze that allowed the fleet to reach up and down the Tagus River past the city front of Lisbon.
After exiting the river and heading offshore past the protection of Cascais, the wind is forecast to build to over 30-knots, with a heavy ocean swell near 4-metres. It will be a fast and challenging first night at sea as the teams charge to the southwest.
“It’s going to be fast,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier. “We have been preparing for this, training in strong winds for six months, so I hope we are ready. We have some good drivers in these conditions so I hope we will be fast.”
And indeed, within 15-minutes of clearing the mouth of the river, the fleet was already seeing over 30-knots of wind and Dongfeng Race Team recorded a boatspeed of nearly 33-knots.
Charlie Enright, the skipper of race leader Vestas 11th Hour Racing was in a strong position early, but appeared to be caught out with too much sail up for the final stretch down the river, and fell back to fifth place.
“We’re confident, but not cocky,” Enright said before the start. “We want to take what we’ve learned and apply it to leg 2. It’s going to be a much different leg. It will be a lot more boatspeed oriented and we’re looking forward to that.”
“The real race starts now,” said Xabi Fernández, the skipper of MAPFRE. “Today we will sail in a couple of days in heavy winds. Everyone will be competitive so we’ll need to go as fast as we can.”
The fleet departs for the 7,000nm downwind slog to Cape Town – but first, the boats must negotiate a tricky in-shore course in Lisbon, in 20-25 knots
Leg 2 Update November 8, 2017: Tight at the top for leading quartet
Leg 1 winners Vestas 11th Hour Racing jumped to the head of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet three days into Leg 2 as the big dive south began in earnest on Wednesday. Clever sailing from Charlie Enright's Danish/American outfit saw them dart past their rivals with a well-timed gybe yesterday evening that put them into their own windshift.
Leg 02, Lisbon to Cape Town, day 03, Downwind fast with clouds on board Dongfeng. Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race. 07 November
When they emerged they had a welcome 10-mile buffer over closest rivals MAPFRE, Dongfeng Race Team and Akzonobel. But it hasn't all gone Vestas' way – since assuming the top spot they've been forced to watch the chasing pack rapidly advancing from behind in better breeze.
At 1300 UTC Vestas' lead had been all but whittled away – although the rankings show a two-mile advantage over second-placed Dongfeng in terms of distance to finish the reality is that the top four teams were practically neck and neck, split west to east by 15 miles.
The blistering speeds of the last few days were today just starting to tail off as the breeze goes lighter with every mile made towards the Doldrums, the band of low pressure notorious for becalming sailors for days on end.
An increase in temperature has brought about an increase in rain showers – welcome for an impromptu wash but a navigator's nightmare for the localised conditions they create.
“The tradewind shower clouds have been a minefield, with 25-knot puffs followed by much lighter winds,” said MAPFRE navigator Joan Vila, reporting that he could see Vestas in the distance. “We've seen wind coming from pretty much every direction, and speeds from less than 10 knots up to 25 knots. It's what we'd expect in an area of showers. Right now it looks like it's clearing a bit, so we might have a bit of a break.”
Just over 50 miles behind the leaders, and another 10 miles west, were Team Brunel, who, according to skipper Bouwe Bekking, have performed their last gybe as they head straight for the Cape Verde Islands some 600 miles west of Senegal.
“We've finally gybed over onto what we think might be our final gybe, so if that's the case it'll be 10 days without another gybe,” he said. “But it's very shifty so who knows. We are the most western boat so we'll see how it pans out. They [the leading boats] gybed early and gained because they are sailing to the south, but it's all about patience now.”
The boats are given position reports only four times per day, at 0100, 0700, 1300 and 1900 (all times UTC). But once per leg, each team has the option to go into ‘Stealth Mode’ whereby its position report is withheld from the rest of the fleet (and us) for three consecutive position reports. This can be used to tactical advantage to make a break for what is perceived as better wind, or to hit a layline, or choose what side to pass an island, etc. The only restriction is that teams are not allowed to go into Stealth Mode when they are within 200 miles of the finish. The approach to the doldrums is a classic opportunity to utilize this tactic. Watch for it over the coming days.
New ‘Ranking Waypoint’:
Race management has added a ‘Ranking Waypoint’ into the tracker so that the rankings better reflect the tactical positions of the teams during the early part of Leg 2. Please note, this is NOT a new mark of the course that the teams need to pass. Instead, it is a virtual waypoint that has been added to the software that is positioned near the mid-point of the expected doldrums crossing point. This intention is to give a more realistic ranking through the approach to the doldrums as well as an updated distance to finish that is closer to what the teams will actually sail.
Leg 2 – Position Report – Wednesday 8 November (Day 4) – 13:00 UTC
1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing, USA/Denmark, -- distance to finish – 4,618.1 nautical miles
2. Dongfeng Race Team, China, +1.8nm
3. MAPFRE, Spain, +2.4
4. team AkzoNobel, Netherlands, +4.1
5. Team Brunel, Netherlands, +52.1
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic, United Nations, +89.5
7. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, Hong Kong, +124.6
Leg 2 Update November 11, 2017: Fleet expected to compress further on final approach to Doldrums
With just 30 miles separating first from fifth, the fleet is expected to compress even further with Doldrums coming into play...
With the fleet approaching the latitudes of the Doldrums, speeds are expected to drop and indeed the leading boat, Dongfeng, was down to 12 knots of speed on the 13:00 UTC position report.
Boats just 10 miles further back were making closer to 20 knots. So a compression in the fleet is expected. But it may not be as severe as it often is. This Doldrums crossing is forecast to be relatively quick. Good news for the leading pack with the boats grouped so close together.
“There is still so much to go in this leg. We are 10 miles behind Dongfeng and we have Vestas and AkzoNobel right behind us… it’s nothing,” said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández. “We would like to keep the distance close. Everyone is happy and we know we have a hard fight with these guys.”
“We are in a tough part of the race, I think. It’s been just about speed for about three days,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier. “Life is not easy on board. It’s very wet and warm and it’s going to be like this for a few days.”
But the weather is providing some relief. The strong rain showers are not just an opportunity to cool off, but also to get a fresh water shower. A luxury that doesn’t happen very frequently on a 20-plus day leg.
Leg 2 – Position Report – Friday 11 November (Day 7) – 13:00 UTC
1. Dongfeng Race Team -- distance to finish – 4,093.7 nautical miles
2. MAPFRE +9.8
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing +11.9
4. team AkzoNobel +25.0
5. Team Brunel +30.2
6. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +88.7
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic +115.2
Leg 2 Update November 21, 2017: Temperatures falling as race heats up
"Cold, wet, and no escape..." An apt description of conditions in the South Atlantic as the competition heats up, even as temperatures plummet...
The second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race might be entering its final few days but the final positions are far from decided.
Leg 02, Lisbon to Cape Town, day 16, on board Vestas 11th Hour. 20 November, 2017. Tony Mutter driving full speed. ©Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race
MAPFRE continued to lead the seven-strong fleet on Tuesday, but their 35 nautical mile advantage yesterday had been whittled down to 26 miles as the chasing pack closed in.
“We’ve managed to get ourselves into the lead, but it’s a pretty tight battle with Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Dongfeng Race Team and Brunel Racing,” said Blair Tuke from on board the leading boat, where Xabi Fernandez's Spanish crew found themselves under attack from a resurgent Dongfeng Race Team, who, after losing the lead and bleeding miles to MAPFRE late last week, have found an extra gear on the approach to Cape Town.
Dongfeng, skippered by Charles Caudrelier, covered an impressive 517 miles in the 24 hours leading up to the 1300 UTC position report enough to move them into second place behind MAPFRE who themselves have made gains on every other team.
Less than a mile behind them was Vestas 11th Hour Racing, winners of Leg 1, while Team Brunel were in fourth some eight miles behind Dongfeng.
With just over 1,300 miles still to sail, and a host of tactical opportunities on the horizon, this leg is anything but decided.
Team Brunel emerged from stealth mode at 0700 UTC as the most northerly boat in the leading group of four. Boat captain Abby Ehler revealed yesterday that Brunel navigator Andrew Cape favoured a southerly route before the team disappeared from the rankings but shortly after 2200 UTC they switched tactics and began positioning themselves above their rivals. However their hopes of getting the better of their rivals while in stealth mode were dashed - the move saw them slip from second to fourth in the rankings.
Team AkzoNobel, in fifth, were forging a route 70 miles north-west of MAPFRE, while another 70 miles north west sixth-placed Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic in seventh were passing Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world. The British colony, which is 1,500 miles from South Africa and 2,000 miles from South America, is home to 262 residents – and famously featured in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race when Ken Read's PUMA Ocean Racing made an unscheduled stop there after dismasting.
The fleet is expected to arrive into Cape Town this weekend.
Leg 2 – Position Report – Tuesday 21 November (Day 17) – 13:00 UTC
1. MAPFRE -- distance to finish – 1,329.4 nautical miles
2. Dongfeng Race Team +26.9
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing +29.3
4. Team Brunel +35.6
5. team AkzoNobel +75.1
6. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +106.4
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic +110.4