Please select your home edition
Hyde Sails 2022 One Design LEADERBOARD

Volvo Ocean Race crews prepare for gale-force Leg 4 start

by Volvo Ocean Race on 17 Feb 2012
Rob Salthouse and Chris Nicholson grind hard as they put a reef in the mainsail as Stu Bannatyne drives onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race) Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race is set to get underway on Sunday in Sanya but, gale-force winds and deadly seas are set to make the start the toughest so far in this edition. The race’s chief meteorologist Gonzalo Infante said the six Volvo Ocean Race crews would have no choice to but to enter 'survival mode' if man and boat are to escape the early days of the 5,200 nautical mile race to Auckland unharmed.

'The weather conditions forming in the South China Sea at the moment will definitely provide the teams with the most challenging start to a leg so far,' Infante said.

'Conditions will be very dangerous, pushing man and boat close to the extreme.'

As is typical at this time of year, a monsoon is currently building to the north of Taiwan and by Saturday will have filled the whole of the South China Sea with north easterly winds of between 35 and 40 knots.

Although certainly testing, wind speed is not the issue, Infante explained. The real problem will be the sea state.

'Now only a very small area in the centre of the South China Sea is affected by big waves – from six to eight metres,' he added. 'However, as we get closer to the start date, the affected area will grow until by Saturday the whole South China Sea will be affected by this sea state.

'The wave models also underestimate the size of waves on the continental shelf i.e. close to the land. On the continental shelf the depth goes from around 3,000 metres to 100 metres and often the waves can be more deadly there than offshore.

'This means the teams have no option to escape the big waves by heading north.'

With no escape route the crews will have no choice but to batten down the hatches and face whatever the weather gods throw at them as they punch east towards the Luzon Strait, the body of water separating Taiwan and the Philippine island of Luzon.

A low pressure system forming to the east of the Philippines is unlikely to develop into a tropical cyclone – but could help increase wind speed and wave height.

'The high wind speeds will mean the boats go quicker and in turn ‘jump’ off the huge waves, creating very dangerous conditions,' Infante said.

'Ultimately the teams will have to go into survival mode to make it through the South China Sea unscathed.'

Thanks to the mountain range protecting Sanya Bay from the north easterly monsoon winds, conditions for Saturday’s Sanya Haitang Bay In-Port Race should be perfect with decent breeze and flat seas.

'Offshore it will be a very different story,' Infante said. 'Race Control is monitoring the situation very closely with weather updates every 30 minutes.

'Models predict the monsoon surge will be fully developed by Friday and will last until at least Tuesday. It is clear the conditions for the start of Leg 4 will be very rough, but it’s not clear how long the conditions will remain.'

Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland is due to start at 1400 local time (0600 UTC) on Sunday, February 19.

Volvo Ocean Race website

Zhik 2024 February Outlet - FOOTERSOUTHERN-SPARS-MISSY-FURLING-BOOMS-728-X-90 BottomVetus-Maxwell 2021 v2 FOOTER

Related Articles

RORC Caribbean 600 day 3
Argo wins multihull thriller Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo (USA) has taken Multihull Line Honours in the 2024 Caribbean 600 in an elapsed time of 01 Day 08 Hrs 08 Mins and 40 Secs.
Posted today at 2:16 pm
Arkéa Ultim Challenge-Brest day 46 morning update
Caudrelier taking shelter in the Azores With less than 1,200 miles to go to the finish, Charles Caudrelier on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, leader of the race since the end of January, has elected to take shelter in the Azores, thereby making a technical stopover.
Posted today at 7:10 am
18ft Skiffs: Team Vic is coming to the JJs
'Growing the game' at the 2024 Giltinan Championship After four years of Covid and the aftermath of the pandemic, the Australian 18 Footers League was determined to get the world's premier 18 footer championship back on track with representatives from as many countries and Australian States
Posted today at 5:56 am
Cup Spy Feb 20: AC40 development continues
Two teams sailed in Auckland and Barcelona. The Swiss will resume AC75 sailing and testing Two teams sailed in Auckland and Barcelona. The Swiss have completed their sail-evaluation program in Jeddah and have returned to Barcelona to resume training in their upgraded AC75.
Posted today at 4:21 am
Kinsale Yacht Club Dragon Gold Cup entry opens
60+ teams are expected to participate in the prestigious event The Notice of Race has been published and Online Entry is now open for the Kinsale Yacht Club Dragon Gold Cup sponsored by Astra Construction Services Ltd, which will be held in Kinsale.
Posted on 20 Feb
Global Solo Challenge update
Winter storm on Philippe Delamare's route to finish Philippe Delamare is charging on towards A Coruña and the end is in sight. His distance to finish is now approximately the same as a Fastnet, Sydney to Hobart or Middle Sea Race, just over 600 nautical miles.
Posted on 20 Feb
Arkéa Ultim Challenge-Brest day 45
Tuesday interview, fifth placed Éric Péron (Ultim Adagio) Every Tuesday we check in with a skipper and gather their thoughts and ideas. Today, it's time for Éric Péron, the only competitor to start on a non-foiling ULTIM.
Posted on 20 Feb
RORC Caribbean 600 day 2
Leading MOD70s negotiating the infamous wind shadow of Guadeloupe By morning (0800 AST) on day two of the RORC Caribbean 600, the vast majority of the fleet was negotiating the northerly extreme of the course, weaving through the chicane of islands; Saba, Sint Maarten, and St. Barths.
Posted on 20 Feb
2024 Spicare Omaezaki Japan World Cup day 2
Bernd and Motoko win Marathon Day After a massive day of over 10 hours of competition at the Spicare OMaezaki Japan World cup, Bernd Roediger and Motoko Sato have emerged victorious in dramatic finals.
Posted on 20 Feb
IRC Rating publishes valid boat data
In a major move towards increased transparency In a major move towards increased transparency IRC Rating is now publishing the valid boat data for all boats with an IRC certificate issued since 1st January 2024.
Posted on 20 Feb