CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand is engaged in a tight three-way battle for the lead as the fleet heads downwind towards the Doldrums.
Puma, CAMPER and Telefonica are all within a few miles of each other with CAMPER and Telefonica in particular exchanging leaderboard spots on a regular basis.
The leading boats are all battling to establish a clear lead before crossing the Doldrums and hopefully picking up stronger trade winds. Although the Doldrums are looking relatively moderate this time around, the latest models are predicting painful progress across the Caribbean with the trades struggling to develop and remaining light and variable all the way to the finish.
The disrupted trade winds will most likely mean a delayed arrival for the fleet into Miami with the estimated time of arrival slipping from May 6 to May 10.
CAMPER navigator Will Oxley says that the uncertain weather models may result in some unconventional tactics.
“The Bahamas lie 3000 miles ahead. It looks like mostly downwind sailing all of the way, which is quite a change for the race, first though we have the Doldrums to deal with.
“The trades are looking quite disrupted for the last part of the leg and some ‘interesting’ routing options are popping up.
“Normally you reject these out of hand, but based on our experience so far in this Volvo Ocean Race- every option remains on the table.
“We’re set up quite nicely though where we are at the moment and we‘re hoping that there’s a bit better breeze and current than what the other guys have got.
“We got around Brazil in pretty good shape really but that’s not necessarily going to mean much in the long term. The only thing we can really be sure about is that this leg is going to be tight for a very long time.”
CAMPER in the latest position report at 1400h 30 April NZT is sailing at 18.5 knots in a 17 knot south easterly.