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21 February 2006, 10:48 am
UPDATED: Tactics For Tropical Storm
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

The remnants of a tropical storm are causing some headaches for the six Volvo Ocean Race crews as they plan their approach to the first ice way point on leg four. At 2325 hours UTC yesterday, then leaders ABN AMRO ONE made the decision to take a 43 nautical mile loss and gybe south. They gybed back again at 0240 this morning and are now the most southerly boat in the fleet, making the best speed, benefiting from bigger breeze and already back ahead of movistar and into fifth place.
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The first ice waypoint lies approximately 900 miles ahead and to the north. There are some very complex strategy decisions to be made across the fleet with a complicated weather pattern ahead. Already there have been some quite diverging courses which is unusual for this fleet. The decision to be made is immensely intricate and it will be another two days or so before it becomes clear as to which team made the right choices.

Fourth place Pirates of the Caribbean skipper Paul CAYARD (USA) explains, 'Right now we are working our way to the first ice way point and we are going to have some trickiness there which we wouldn't normally encounter in the southern ocean, because we have to go through a fixed point. There is a big hole in the wind there. There is a cyclone which is hopefully dying slowly, causing a lot of turbulence in the waves and the wind and so we are going to have some very strange winds in the last twelve hours going into that gate.'

North Or South?

The tropical storm is making its way south towards the position of the first ice gate, possibly arriving at the same time as the fleet. The options are either to go to the north of it, which would carry the higher risk, or to sail to the south of it, which is what the fleet has decided to do. Sailing to the south of the depression also carries risks. It is possible that the storm may move faster south and the fleet could end up in 40 knots of headwinds in order to reach the ice gate.

The boats furthest north have the shortest distance to the finish in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which puts Sebastien JOSSE's (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO in the lead. The team is cutting the corner to the ice gate, but is closest to the centre of the depression. The danger in this move is that they may find they run out of wind and need to gybe to get south later which could be very costly.

Splitting In Two

The fleet has now effectively split into two packs to tackle the remnants of a tropical storm, with ABN AMRO TWO and Brasil 1 electing to stay north and the rest of the boats keeping further south. ABN AMRO ONE skipper Mike SANDERSON (NZL) alluded to the issue in yesterday's email, stating, 'It looks like our play to the east to keep both options open of going over the top or underneath of this upcoming tropical low will cost us some distance on the fleet.'

He continued, 'The ice waypoints look like they are going to make our trip to the Horn pretty grim as this tropical storm is going to make its way down so that it is getting there about the same time as us. At the moment going over the top of it looks like it would be the riskier move as it seems that the majority of the fleet anyway are going to go underneath…'

SANDERSON concluded that 'Going underneath though you stand the risk of the thing moving faster south and you ending up in 40 knots of wind and bashing your way upwind to get to the gates!! It is going to make for some fun viewing for you guys at home, especially if at least one boat has a go over the top...'

SANDERSON's gamble seems to have him well placed at the bottom of the fleet to pick up best of winds from the storm and all eyes will be on the next sched to see if his manoeuvre has paid dividends.

Position Report At 1000 Hours UTC, 21 February 2006
Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 50 55.01S 167 29.02W 6056 0 0 115 16.1 15.2 10/03/2006
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 51 10.02S 167 55.04W 6073 17 18 99 17.8 14.9 10/03/2006
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 51 59.01S 167 52.04W 6076 20 8 112 17.7 14.8 10/03/2006
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 52 17.02S 167 57.09W 6081 25 5 117 18.1 14.8 10/03/2006
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 52 18.03S 167 58.05W 6082 26 17 112 19.5 14.7 10/03/2006
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 52 8.20S 168 18.06W 6093 37 -1 119 17.1 14.5 10/03/2006

DTF: Distance To Finish
DTL: Distance To Leader
DTLC: Distance To Leader Change; the difference between the distance from the boat to the leader taken at the time of the last six hour poll, and the distance from the boat to the leader at the previous poll
CMG: Course Made Good; the average course steered over the period of the past six hours up to the time of the last poll
SMG: Speed Made Good
VMG: Velocity Made Good; the average velocity of the boat towards the finish over the entire leg
ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival

Overall Leaderboard
(Up to and including Leg Three)

Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
3 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 25
5 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 21.5
4 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 20
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 16.5
7 ING Real Estate Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 11.5

For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.

Lizzie GREEN/Tim KELLY (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Brasil 1 are up into second place:© Oskar KIHLBORG
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