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Volvo Ocean Race- Auckland finish - Rolling Updates

by Richard Gladwell on 10 Mar 2012
Groupama - Volvo Ocean Race, Leg 4 Finish © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com

Sail-World will be covering the finish of Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race from our Takapuna office, the Media Centre at the Viaduct Harbour and on the water.

We expect to have two correspondents covering the finish - and will be covering the finish of all boats, at this point. This story will have the rolling updates of the situation as we know it, and will continue to the finish of the leg.

NewstalkZB will be covering the final leg down the Northland coast from 1200-1800hrs on Saturday 10 March, with Peter Montgomery talking to the boats and shore people and carrying their updates. They can be heard on www.newstalkzb.co.nz via the interweb.

Sail-World's coverage will continue through the night covering the finish of Groupama, and will resume on Sunday to cover the finish of Camper, Puma and Telefonica, and later to cover Sanya and Abu Dhabi.

Sail-World uses the routing function of www.predictwind.com!Predictwind to determine finish times and course options for the race fleet. The fleet postions are taken from reports syupplied by Volvo Ocean Race. Predictwind has the options of using four weather feeds (on the boats the navigators have only two) and now the boats are close to the New Zealand coast we can move to a more detailed weather feed available only via Predictwind which will allow the nuances of local topography and temperature to be factored into the course options for the boats, which enable projected finish times to be produced.


2230 Groupama flies down the Rangitoto Channel and catches the media napping, who were only able to catch the French entry at Alpa Bouy, at the entrance to Auckland Harbour. Hitting 12 knots on the final stretch to North Head, Groupama had to perform several gybes in a fading breeze to make the finish line off the Viaduct Harbour where a large, and well oiled crowd, tumbled out of the nearby bars to greet the first finisher on Leg 4, and in particular the first New Zealander home, Brad Marsh

2100 At the latest position report at 2100hrs local time, Groupama was positioned off Little Barrier, one of two major islands at the entrance to the Hauraki Gulf and PredictWind is still predicting a midnight finish. The other boats are crossing Great Exhibition Bay, just south of Cape Reinga at the far north of New Zealand. Puma was leading this group, followed by Telefonica and Camper. The distance to finish calculations published by Volvo Ocean Race should now be accurate as there seems to be no tacking involved to the finish, which is not accurately seen by the VOR calculations.

!848 Volvo Ocean Race report that Leg 4 leader Groupama came close to sinking on her passage down the coast of the North Island, forcing her crew to close the collision bulkhead and commence emergency pumping, she is now reported to be almost dry. The report reads: Yann Riou, Media Crew Member on board Groupama 4, reported that the bow had become two-thirds filled with water after damage caused to the crash box. 'All pumps, buckets and scoops as well as most of men are requisitioned,' said Riou. 'After a few minutes, we saw that the water level had dropped. Relief.' Riou said the bow had received numerous bangs at the start of the leg in the South China Sea and in heavy conditions over the past three days. 'Fortunately, the leak can be isolated from the rest of the boat by closing the crash-box. After close to two hours of hard work, we are back again with a boat almost dry.'


1716: Peter Montgomery talking to Phil Harmer (helmsman/trimmer) aboard Groupama who reports they have 85nm to go and are sailing at 13-14kts of boatspeed and their navigator is forecasting a finish around midnight - however it is hoped to stay with the current prediction of 2330hrs off the Viaduct in downtown Auckland. That would place them just south of Cape Brett and confirms the time predictions at the critical waypoints down the Northland coast produced this morning from Predictwind (see remaining times below). Projected finish time using the standard weather feeds is still between 2330 and midnight, however PredictWind is seeing the winds to freshen and predicts an earlier arrival time of between 2300 and 2330hrs tonight, NZT, into the Rangitoto Channel.


1330: In an interview with Peter Montgomery, Stu Bannatyne on Camper says they are 20 miles off Cape Reinga. Puma is about eight miles ahead and Telefonica crossed ahead by about a mile, before tacking. The game would seem to be tightening up. Sea state is a nasty chop with 13-15kts of wind, as they beat towards Cape Rienga at the north of New Zealand. They have to do at least six tacks to reach the cape, with two tonnes of gear to be shifted each tack. Campe is feeling the currents which swirl to the north of New Zealand and which are quite an influence.

1145: Predictwind is forecasting a finish time for Groupama of between 2330 and midnight local time today, Saturday. Currently leg leader Groupama is just south of Mongonui in northern New Zealand and is tacking off to the east as recommended by both weather models. She is actually sailing in a wind of 19-20kts which is consistent with that forecast in the models. She is ex[ected to tack at about 1300hrs NZT and will sail at speedss of 10-15kts all the way down the Nortland Coast, and will hit the finish line sailing at 12 kts. The winds are expected to ease from the current level of 20 kts to be 12 kts at the finish.

According to the latest routing Groupama will tack east again off the Bay of Islands at 1600 hrs, before lining up for the finish.

Key waypoint arrival times are:

Cape Brett - 1700hrs
Whanagrei Heads - 2000hrs
Mangawhai Heads - 2100hrs
Takatu Peninsular - 2200hrs
Kawau Island (eastern side) - 2234hrs
Tiri Passage - 2300hrs
Rangitoto Channel - midnight

Times may vary according to changes in wind speed and direction, and are estimates based on available data at 1130hrs on 10 March. Current positions can be seen on the http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/racetracker/rdc.html!Volvo_Race_Tracker

Projected finish time for the next three boats, Telefonica, Puma and Camper is 1100am on Sunday. Wind conditions are projected to be 19kts at 1300hrs for Puma and then easing to 15kts at 1600. They will remain steady but easing throughout the fafternoon and night.

Abu Dhabi is expected to finish between 1600-1800hrs on Sunday evening, with Sanya expected about an hour later.

All placings from second to sixth are expected to be keenly contested down the Northland coast, and predictions at this stage are interesting but not definitive


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