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Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 wrap up: faster than expected!

A fast and furious leg: Libby Greenhalgh looks back at how the teams coped with the challenges of Leg 2

Leg 2 finished in under 20 days for the leading bunch: any quicker and Cape Town wouldn’t have been open! The fast start out of Lisbon and a doldrums without much to speak of made for a quick arrival in Cape Town and definitely some happy extra days of rest.

The previous update to leg 2 saw us leaving the crews as they were chasing east hoping to be on their final gybe to Cape Town. The leading pack contained Vestas, Mapfre, Dongfeng and Brunel, with Akzonobel desperately trying to hang on to their coat tails. Further back the continued match race between Turn the Tide and Scallywag brought up the rear with only 80nm between them all.

Falling off the front: final update

As the teams progressed east the inevitable happened for some and this will be a similar challenge in the next leg. The frontal system the teams had all been riding was catching them up and slowly dissipating.

Akzonobel were the first to fall off the front – surprising, given their position further south than Turn the Tide and Scallywag – but once off, the mile loss came quick and hard and the navigation changed entirely from ‘home in almost one’ to ‘stuck in a high pressure ridge and looking for the next pressure’.

The leading pack managed to just stay ahead of this area of lighter breeze while the three tightly packed boats at the back had to reassess and make the inevitable dive south to find more pressure from a low pressure system to push them to Cape Town. There was another play of stealth, this time by Scallywag as the teams were choosing when to gybe south. It made for exciting watching as you wondered if they were really going to take on trying to push through the system. It would have been a bold call and ultimately they didn’t.  Overall the second group sailed an additional 500-600 nm more than the leaders, with anywhere from a few metres to few miles between them.

Akzonobel managed to eke out a 4 mile lead as they approached Cape Town which allowed them to further extend and comfortably hold their position as they negotiated Table Mountain.

Scallywag and Turn the Tide made it an absolute nailbiter, with Turn the Tide taking a slightly closer inside line and very nearly catching them. With just over a minute between the boats, the racing in the Volvo Ocean Race seems to be tighter than ever!

Next up: read about the challenges the teams will face as they meet the ‘real’ Southern Ocean for the first time…