Monday, November 17, 2008

Chris Bedford, Ericsson Team meteorologist: Investing in the south

Better than any press release, Chris Bedford's concise reports provide an excellent overview of the general situation in this second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. According to Chris the 2 Ericsson boats follow their southerly strategy while it appears that the Telefonica squad has chosen to go further north, probably sacrificing the points at the scoring gate in order to finish first.

[Source: Chris Bedford, Ericsson Team meteorologist] This morning, we start to see the effects of differing strategies. Both Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 have invested hard in the south to gain maximum distance east and speed toward the scoring Gate. Even still, they are not the southern-most boats – Puma has gone even farther south.

Both Ericsson Racing Team boats are firmly placed in the south westerly breeze now and they are expected to hold this for the next few days – pretty much all the way to 58E before gybing north and making for Cochin. Wind speeds will be 20-30 knots with some gusts and squalls to 35 knots very likely through to Wednesday, then a slow easing trend is forecast.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s update, the southerly course was what our plan dictated. We also anticipated that some boats -- most likely the Telefonica boats -- may very well go for a long-term plan, placing an emphasis on trying to go for finishing first – sacrificing the scoring gate points for improved placing on the Leg 2 finish. On this morning’s update, the Telefonica Black and Blue boats are about 2 deg latitude further north and behind Ericsson Racing Team. That puts them further from the scoring line, but closer to the finish, and therefore they will look good on the leader board. Expect big variations from time to time on the leader board reflecting the geometry of the race course and the eastern progress of the fleet.

It looks like a 4-way race between Ericsson 3, Ericsson 4, Puma and Green Dragon to the scoring gate. What the future holds for the overall leg positioning, it’s too early to tell. There will be some nervous times onboard the boats as they watch the Telefonica boats climb gradually north toward the finish. The expectation is that the lighter winds encountered by Telefonica in their northern position will be offset by the stronger winds further south. Time will tell

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