As we progressed to the 10th January the teams were getting closer and closer, as an exceptionally active cloud band saw the boats compress to within 10nm of each other as it engulfed us.
On Scallywag one cloud lost us 30nm on Brunel. Trying to manage your positioning on the clouds is so key in this area and this is a lot harder at night than in day for obvious reasons.
We are reliant on the B&G Radar onboard, which becomes a key tool for tracking the movement and positioning of any showers, identifying the angle of approach and how long until we are through – not to mention figuring out how the hell you get out of one when it swallows you!
For a couple of days Vestas have been making a strong play to hold further east of the fleet while overall heading north, despite the fact that the finish line bears 290!
Ultimately, it’s a race to get out of the doldrums and into the NE Trade winds where the rich get richer, and this positioning is starting to pay.
The routings still hold the teams all finishing with 2.5 hours which isn’t a lot of time: it could be 60nm as the forecast at the end looks windy. But where is the action next?
Drag Race to the trades
Speed is your friend and clouds are not – well, most of the time! Ultimately, the goal is to get across the equator and another 150nm north before slowly turning the bow towards the finish as the trade winds build to 25 KTs of downwind sleigh ride.
Speed will definitely be key and I am sure once again we will see the separate groups develop in these miles as the experienced teams continue to build and find their legs.
Note to self: There are plenty of reefs and islands out here for us to avoid! Including to our east a place called ‘The location mostly abandoned.’ I don’t know much about it but it does make me wonder as I do my weather routing!
As the teams wiggle their way through Micronesia, the winds will become lighter and the fleet will compress. This will provide an opportunity for teams to gybe and reposition before straight lining to the Luzon Straits.
The Luzon Straits are the gap between the Philippines to the south and Taiwan to the north. The Siberian high looks like it is set to bring some strong winds and cold conditions as the teams reach the straights. Notorious for accelerating the winds well beyond forecast and with a strong adverse current the sea conditions are likely to be heinous and a 30-40 KT downwind sleigh ride will probably be more about boat preservation to the finish.
I’m looking forward to updating you all when ashore…wish the Scallywags forward! It’s phenomenal how close the boats all are after 3000nm and as the race progresses it is only going to get tighter and tighter.