Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Light headwinds force diverging tactics in VOR leg 3

[Source: Ericsson Racing Team] Light headwinds have seen diverging tactics on the third night of Leg 3. The conditions have caused a decided split with some boats – Ericsson 4 and Puma – heading north and others – the Telefónica Blue and Telefónica Black – going south.

Regardless of placement, nearly every boat went through a lot of maneuvers the past 12 hours as they wrestled with the light headwinds south of Sri Lanka. Late tonight, however, it looks like that heavy maneuvering may have come to an end.

The 0100 GMT position report listed Ericsson 4 as the fleet leader, 1,416 nautical miles from the finish in Singapore. Telefónica Blue was second, 3 miles behind, Puma third, 8 miles back, and Telefónica Black fourth, 11 miles off. The top four were separated north to south by about 20 miles. Ericsson 3 was running in seventh, 32 miles off the pace.

Ericsson 4 chases clouds to gain some speed. 16 December 2008. Video copyright Ericsson Racing Team

Not only are the light headwinds to blame for the many tacks put in the past 12 hours by each boat, but also an adverse tide. Race data at 0100 showed Ericsson 4 with 3.5 knots of current pushing it to the southwest, 231 degrees. Ericsson 3 also had a 3.5 knot adverse current.

“A rather quiet and uneventful day today,” said Ericsson 4 bowman Ryan Godfrey. “We are experiencing very light breezes as we slowly sail across the southern coast of Sri Lanka. While we have generally been able to maintain a reasonable boatspeed though the water, adverse currents of up to 3 knots are really putting a halt to the distance we are covering over the ground.”

Ericsson 4 was about 840 nautical miles from the island of Pulau We off the northern end of Sumatra. Pulau We marks the southern end of the scoring gate.

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