Please select your home edition
Edition
Ancasta Ker 40+ 728x90

Volvo Ocean Race - Groupama and Puma battle for top spot

by Franck Cammas on 2 Apr 2012
Charles Caudrelier wearing alternative head protaction, onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team © /Volvo Ocean Race http://www.cammas-groupama.com/
Volvo Ocean Race teams Groupama 4 and Puma Ocean Racing are neck and neck at the front of the fleet on the twelfth day of racing in leg five, from Auckland to Itajai, at the 1300 UTC report today.

On this April Fool's Day, tricks don't appear to be on the menu off Patagonia. Indeed the quick, radical changes in the weather conditions suggest that it's time for strategic choices right now. And though like a shark, the Americans have homed in on their prey Groupama 4 this noon on Sunday, there is likely to be a way out with the arrival of a zone of high pressure right across the route to Brazil...

The climb up towards Itajai isn't going to be at all restful as the rapidly changing weather conditions along the Argentinean coast are being accompanied by the Andes cordillera phenomenon, leading to some separation between two major oceanic and climatic ensembles: the Pacific with some austral depressions, which stumble against the steep shores of Chile, and the Atlantic, which plays host to disturbances created to the South of Brazil due to the continental heat, to propel its way towards the Roaring Forties. As such there is a lot of movement in the air masses and consequently a great deal of alternation between the mini depressions, which are forming locally between Tierra del Fuego and Rio de la Plata, and the zones of high pressure which take over once these disturbances fill in and head off towards South Africa...

In this way, since rounding Cape Horn on Friday at 1300 UTC, Groupama 4 has been sailing in a moderate northerly breeze (15 knots), backing round to the North-West as it builds (20 knots) with gusts, then switching temporarily round to the South-West as it drops away sharply (8 knots) before shifting round to the South-East (12 knots) then to the East... And since noon on Saturday, the breeze has continued to oscillate with a south-westerly (12 knots), building to 25 knots before easing this Sunday morning to 15 knots, and then dropping right away late morning (5 knots) as it shifts round to the South! We can well imagine that the activity on deck has been endless in order to quickly adapt the sail area. The Americans have made the most of these conditions to make up their deficit since rounding Isla de Los Estados, but although the weather conditions were fairly different, the separation in terms of distance and time remains slight.

And this constant adaptation of the sail area is very unlikely to change before Brazil: the succession of climatic phenomena ahead of the duellists will call for quick reactions at all times, and doubtless some changes in hierarchy at the front of the pack in relation to the calms and the fresh breezes. Indeed, Franck Cammas and his men lost control of the fleet this Sunday morning, though the trajectories which had converged level with the Falklands have now split away again. Groupama 4 has positioned herself twenty miles to the West of Puma and though there is less wind at the end of the weekend closer to the continent, this is also the side where the fresh breeze will be the first to hit as it is shifts round to the SSW at over twenty knots.

Is it because the puma is very common in Argentina, and even in the Andes cordillera up to 5,000 metres up, that the Americans have regained their agility? Indeed, Ken Read and his crew have played this ascent really well since exiting Le Maire Strait. However, it's probably at the start of the week that the duel will further intensify: there shouldn't be too much lateral separation, but there will be some micro options which will cause the situation to yo-yo... Initially, it will be necessary to sail in front of the wind, before heading offshore to benefit for as long as possible from this vein of around twenty knots of downwind conditions.

A zone of high pressure will then settle in to the East of Rio de la Plata as it grows: at that point it's not going to be easy to choose the right trajectory, because near the Argentinean coast, it's a northerly headwind which will colour the start of the week. However, given that the high pressure will also distance itself from the continent, the way forward will be blocked offshore with the risk of a very big diversion to avoid falling into its centre where there won't be any wind. The first solution is the shortest but will call for a beat in strong winds. Added to that it is likely to prove a more conservative solution in the sense that the weather changes are rolling in from the West. The second solution is easier to deal with initially with some downwind conditions, but it could turn into a trap if the zone of high pressure continues to sprawl out over the coming days...

Standings on 1 April 2012 at 1300 UTC
1. Groupama 1,354 miles from the finish
2. Puma equal distance to the finish as Groupama
3. Telefonica 333.9 miles astern of the leader
4. Camper 1,503.0 miles astern of the leader
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 1,781.9 miles astern of the leader
6. Sanya Groupama Sailing team website
NaiadZhik Yachting 660x82Ancasta Ker 40+ 660x82

Related Articles

Volvo Ocean Race- Official Video of latest edtion
The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 started in Alicante, Spain in October 2011 and concluded in Galway, Ireland during July The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 started in Alicante, Spain in October 2011 and concluded in Galway, Ireland during early July 2012. This documentary tracks the fleet during their amazing around the world journey. Catch all the drama and action as the teams sail a 39,000 nautical miles through the world's most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajaí, M
Posted on 21 Aug 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- All-Women crew announced for the 2014-15 edition
The Volvo Ocean Race will feature an all-female team for the first time since 2001-02 after global hygiene and forest co The Volvo Ocean Race will feature an all-female team for the first time since 2001-02 after global hygiene and forest company SCA announced they would enter a women’s crew for the next edition in 2014-15. 'The lack of women in the last few editions of the race has meant we haven't been representing half the population of the human race' - Knut Frostad, Volvo Ocean Race, CEO
Posted on 21 Aug 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- And when the race is over.... + Video
Camper, the second placed boat in the Volvo Ocean Race, has returned to her Spanish home. Camper, the second placed boat in the Volvo Ocean Race, has returned to her Spanish home. She will visit the Copa del Rey in Palma de Mallorca. Sponsored by the Mallorcan footwear company Camper, the return of the joint Spanish and New Zealand flagged boat, marks the end of a round the world adventure that started with the yacht’s baptism at the RCNP in September 2011 and the race start from A
Posted on 18 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Calling up the Reinforcements
They say one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity, and that certainly was the case for reserve sailors They say one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity, and that certainly was the case for reserve sailors in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, who were given the chance to prove they could step up to challenges as big as the Southern Ocean, often with barely any notice. Be it an email with a subject line 'get your boots ready' or a hurried face-to-face with the skipper just minutes before the st
Posted on 18 Jul 2012
The most successful Volvo Ocean Race yet
The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 was not only the closest race in the 39-year history of the event but also the most success The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 was not only the closest race in the 39-year history of the event but also the most successful, CEO Knut Frostad said on Thursday, with hundreds of thousands of fans visiting Galway in Ireland for a buoyant finale and outstanding growth across media platforms set to be confirmed once final data is in.
Posted on 16 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Sanderson wants to go again
Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson will be back racing as early as this weekend but the big date circled in his diary is in la Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson will be back racing as early as this weekend but the big date circled in his diary is in late 2014 when he expects to return for another campaign in the Volvo Ocean Race. Sanderson skippered ABN AMRO ONE to victory in 2005-06 and while his race this time with Sanya was not the same glittering success he is determined it will not be his final appearance in the Volvo
Posted on 16 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Reluctant hero Marsh takes seamanship honour
'It's been an amazing adventure, a fantastic tour, and a great race' - Brad Marsh The title ‘hero’ does not rest easy on the shoulders of Groupama bowman Brad Marsh, but most agree that it is the best way to describe the Kiwi who repaired a sinking yacht, saved a broken rig and scaled a 31-metre mast in a storm front.
Posted on 16 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race - Perfection never enough for Franck Cammas
Volvo Ocean Race skipper Franck Cammas, at the age of just 39, is already assured of his place in sailing history Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 skipper Franck Cammas, at the age of just 39, is already assured of his place in sailing history thanks to Groupama's debut victory in the Volvo Ocean Race. Here we profile the charismatic French sailor for whom perfection is never good enough.
Posted on 10 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Selected Awards announced at Formal Prizegiving
Camper's Hamish Hooper saw nine months of hard work pay off as he was crowned Media Crew Member of the Volvo Ocean Race The selected award category winners were announced at the final formal Volvo Ocean Race prizegiving in Galway Ireland. We present a gallery of images and video of the category winners and their feats including the Media Crew member Award, the Rookie Award, the Seamanship Award, the Shore Crew Award as well as the Designer Award and Speed Trophy presentation.
Posted on 9 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Formal Prizegiving - Racing Award winners
The racing award winners and crews were announced at the formal prizegiving for the Volvo Ocean Race, at Galway, Ireland The racing award winners were recognised at the formal prizegiving for the Volvo Ocean Race, at Galway, Ireland after the conclusion of the InPort race on Saturday. All six crews were presented with overall awards or place momentos. The InPort Trophy was awarded as well, the speed record trophy was also awarded.
Posted on 8 Jul 2012