All Seven Volvo 65s Make Leg 8
In stark contrast to the brutality of the full-on Southern Ocean conditions of Leg 7 in the Volvo Ocean Race, the once-again seven-strong fleet of Volvo 65s is now beating upwind in light to moderate tropical tradewind conditions off the coast of Brazil. A highly tactical first portion of this leg sees the fleet swapping positions and tacking back and forth regularly as they try to navigate the shifts and get their boats onto a layline that will allow them to clear the eastern-most point of Brazil before beginning the long reach north to Newport, Rhode Island.
The biggest headline of this leg thus far is undoubtedly the fact that all seven boats made it to the starting line on time. With Scallywag having made landfall in Chile after the loss of crewmember John Fisher, and Vestas/11th Hour Racing dismasted in the Falklands, there was a high level of uncertainty about whether the fleet would be ready to go by the start on Sunday, April 22. After enduring the tragedy of losing their teammate, the Scallywag crew all flew home to be with their families while a delivery crew hopped on board and delivered the boat around Cape Horn and up to Itajaí, Brazil, in a race against the clock. Vestas was going up against the same clock, but in a very different race of their own, installing a street lamp for a mast and then motorsailing some 1,600 miles up to Itajaí!
With both boats arriving just days before the race, it took nothing short of a herculean effort by the boatyard to make necessary repairs, pull the keels off after a rough Southern Ocean leg, replace Vestas’ mast, and put the boats through a full servicing before the start of Leg 8. Well done to the boatyard and all of the other teams who helped out!
Once entering the trade winds and reaching north, the fleet is likely to compress, or even have a restart mid-race at the ITCZ or doldrums near the equator. Early in this race and with more than 4,500 miles left to sail to Rhode Island, the rankings on the tracker don’t mean much at this point, but as of this writing Vestas/11th Hour Racing has managed to work their way into the lead. Stay tuned to www.volvooceanrace.com and ‘Lectronic Latitude for more updates as the fleet races toward an American stopover in Newport, RI. Also see our longer report coming out in the May 1 issue of Latitude 38.
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