Volvo Ocean Race - Conditions take their toll

Groupama Sailing Team during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race fleet are on day six of racing in leg one from Alicante to Cape Town. The conditions are taking their toll with seasickness and tiredness setting in for the crews sailing out to the west. Inshore, Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) continues to luck in, leading the fleet by 111.40 nautical miles (nm), while the rest of the fleet loses out.

The three boats to the west, led by Telefónica (Iker Martinez/ESP) with Puma’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) just eight nm astern are currently sailing upwind and away from Fernando de Noronha, the mark of the course on the Brazilian coast that the fleet must leave to port, in order to reach a new low-pressure system. Once there, they will hook into the new breeze on the western side, avoiding the centre where there will be little or no wind, and speeds will start to clock up.

A full moon rises behind the "Mar Mostro." PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

The on-going battle between Puma’s Mar Mostro and Telefónica continues as they engage in their own private drag race, causing a frenzy of activity for each tack as gear and crew are stacked in the optimum position. The two boats are in sight of each other, which adds to the onboard competition.

It is hard for Camper (Chris Nicholson/AUS), who are on their own, 78 nm to the north. Nerves of steel are needed on board as the crew cling to their strategy to sail closer to the low-pressure system and meet the promised new wind.

Meanwhile, the crew of Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) are relishing their lonely course 24 nm inshore.

They spent a magical night racing downwind under a full moon, no clouds and a balmy 20 degrees Celsius. The dream trip will be over if the weather gods kill what little is left of the trade winds, but for now the crew are enjoying themselves and last night they saw very clearly the lights of their former base camp in Lanzarote. Earlier this morning they gybed away from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura and they are now running parallel with the coast.

Discussions on board include how best to bridge across to the west and re-join the fleet. Earlier this morning, bowman Brad Marsh described this move as 'similar to crossing a battlefield full of mines and bombs - with surrounding trenches and gunfire from all angles'. But he added that Groupama sailing team are a band of smart and experienced Frenchmen who are confident in their battle plan.

Every position report tells a story. Will Groupama 4’s bold move pay off or is west still best? The crews wait in anticipation for the only source of information that gives the answer – at least temporarily.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, leaves Alicante to rejoin leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, after dismasting in rough weather and replacing their mast. (Credit: TIM STONTON/Volvo Ocean Race)
Tim Stonton/Volvo Ocean Race

Meanwhile, a long way behind, Abu Dhabi resumed racing this morning as they stepped tentatively back into leg one with a replacement mast.

Positions at 10/11/2011 10:01:25 UTC:
-SNYARetired from Leg 1

Neal McDonald from the UK helming and Jordi Calafat from Spain. Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

Volvo Ocean Race website