The Volvo Ocean Race fleet had another day of trade wind power reaching toward the Caribbean, holding the true wind direction at about 120 degrees as they kept their boat speed near 20 knots. The wind has been slowly clocking, but with a very solid right hand shift in the forecast, they will soon be broad reaching with a gybe onto port by Saturday.
However, according to PredictWind.com, a bigger decision will follow as there is a low pressure system forecast to move off the USA coast near North Carolina. Depending on the timing and formation of this system, the teams will either opt to skirt around the back using some of the Gulf Stream along the coastline or head north and ride it up towards Newport. This decision could split the fleet.
“We are still trying to work out when to go north,” admits Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker. “However, our biggest headache right now is the clumps of seaweed we are sailing through. When they get caught on the rudders (which they do painfully often) we spin out and it takes us a few minutes to get back under control and rolling again.”
Too bad the fleet isn’t planning for a stop and go at Antigua. A Rum Punch might taste pretty good right now.
Leg 6 (5,010 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 1934.0 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 2.9 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 24.0 nm DTL
4. MAPFRE, Iker Martínez (ESP), 32.2 nm DTL
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 50.7 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 57.7 nm DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start