Post by iconPost by pgfiore | 2011-12-10 | 01:29:11

[crf. http://www.volvooceanracegame.com/]
Wouter Verbraak his view on Leg 2 Cape Town to Abu Dhabi

The start of leg 2 is “a do or die” scenario with some nasty hurdles to overcome in the first five days. Just exiting the bay of Cape Town can be a real challenge as the South-East winds don’t turn the corner and tend to stay a tantalizing couple of miles offshore. You might find yourself actually sailing away from the next mark to get to it!

Once in the wind, an important choice has to be made to go east along the South-African shore, or dive south to get to the Westerlies in the roaring forties. It all has to do with the timing of the next front; you want to invest South when you know that you can hook into the North-West winds ahead of it, and surf it like a wave East as long as you can.

Fast, fast, fast, lots of fun, but you will have to wreck you brain when to leave this fast train and head North. This is a tricky one, as you will have to see how you can get passed the high pressure area with light winds that are blocking your way. If the high is very far East, you will have to take off at an early station, and slug your way upwind, past Madagascar and the islands of Mauritius. Alternatively you can hold your breath and try to get around the Eastern side of the high. High risk? This option is tempting with downwind, fast sailing, and a great wind angle in the Trade. It’s best to be sure that the door doesn’t get closed on you though, as you will be trapped in light winds for a very long time. Ouch!

Say you made it passed the High, you can have a couple of days to recover in the Trade winds. The only hick-up could be a tropical cyclone crossing your track, as there is still hurricane season after all.

When you get through the Trades , nicely rested, the Doldrums are the next stop, literally. The Doldrums in the Indian Ocean are a mess. There is no obvious narrow point to cross, thunderstorms are numerous and the pattern chaotic. The advice for the last race was to cross further East, yet the West came out best. The models were of little guidance, probably more a distraction than help. Getting north, as best as you can is actually your best option. At least from behind the computer, you will neither have to deal with the heavy downpours with zero visibility, nor worry about getting stuck in one of the numerous fishing nets.

The stretch from the Maldives to the entrance of the Gulf will either be a fast reach if the NE-monsoon reaches you, or a real light, 1000 NM drift off, if it doesn’t. The NE monsoon doesn’t really start in full power until January, so you will have to play it by ear.

The strait into The Gulf is typically light and, to some extent, very light. During a race I did around five years ago, we looked for wind along the Iranian shore. It worked well until we had an Iranian navy plane dive a bit too low for comfort over us; best to tack out and stay at a safe distance.

To sum up: it is a leg with lots of snakes and ladders, and it won’t be over until the finish. Just keep pushing the limits! Be always sharp to anticipate the next twist in the story.

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