Day Five: AM Update
The first three days of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race produced fast downwind conditions for the entire fleet. However, yesterday afternoon a northwesterly air flow headed the fleet yet to round Out Stack, and the changeable weather is due to continue today. Only a few yachts will benefit, for many it will be a disadvantage. After four days, the remaining competitors will be fully in tune to the routine of life at sea.
Yesterday, at approximately 1400 BST, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Volvo Ocean 65 Azzam, skippered by Ian Walker, rounded the Fastnet Rock, leading the fleet and over 40 miles ahead of Team Campos, skippered by Iker Martinez. Almost immediately Azzam gybed offshore onto starboard and didn't gybe back for 90 miles. Team Campos followed Azzam offshore, but gybed for the Scilly Isles, 50 miles earlier than Azzam, which turned into a ten mile gain for the Spanish team. Bear in mind that while they can receive regular weather updates and position reports, the teams cannot see the RORC race player and cannot see each other's immediate moves until the next update. At 0800 BST, Azzam was 30 miles ahead of Team Campos with 130 miles to go and is expected to finish the race today sometime before dusk.
"We took the gybe offshore as a precaution," commented Ian walker by satellite phone to the RORC Media Team. "We wanted to stay in the best pressure and get a good angle to the Scilly Isles but avoid the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme). Compared to the last four days, we are racing in comfortable conditions with the off watch able to get some sleep. However, we expect our lead to be whittled away over the next few hours as the breeze develops from behind. In the Volvo Ocean Race many legs end with this scenario. As we approach land the wind can change for the leader, allowing the boats behind to catch up. We have a big lead but if we park up, even for a couple of hours, it will completely vanish."
The battle for third in the Volvo Ocean 65 Class is currently being led by Team Dongfeng, skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier. The Chinese entry for the forthcoming Volvo Ocean Race was 16 miles ahead of SCA, skippered by Sam Davies, and Alvimedica, skippered by Charlie Enright.