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Home » Sailing » Volvo Ocean Race: Team SCA nears half-way mark of Transatlantic crossing

Volvo Ocean Race: Team SCA nears half-way mark of Transatlantic crossing


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Corinna Halloran / Team SCA. When competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, one of the key crew members is the navigator. Corinna Halloran / Team SCA). Credit: .

As Team SCA navigate an area of high pressure OBR candidate Corinna Halloran brings us ‘Navigation 101′.

“Navigating is a bit like trying to make the best meal you’ve ever made. The weather is the main ingredient, then you add in weather histories, modern instruments, software, and land masses,” Carolijn Brouwer said.

Today, I sat down in the navigation station with Carolijn for a little ‘Navigation 101′  When competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, one of the key crew members is the navigator. It is the navigator who decides where the boat will go along the race course dependent on the analysis of various weather forecasts; the rest of the crew will then sail the boat fast as possible, according to the navigator’s course.

A navigator is basically a master puzzle solver: constantly solving the puzzle of weather prediction. Every six hours they are given a new forecast to help solve the puzzle. With each forecast, plus a few more components, they hope that the directional decisions made will be the correct solution to the puzzle and get the boat to point B faster than the competition. The navigator is also equal parts performance analyst.

Navigating, correctly, “is a bit like trying to make the best meal you’ve ever made, the weather is the main ingredient, then you add in weather histories, modern instruments, software, and land masses,” Carolijn said.

Carolijn explained, that “traditionally navigators were full on geeks down below watching the numbers on their computers. But in modern sailing you also have to also be a sailor, you must know the feel of everything because you have to understand what the crew is doing on deck and they need to understand you. A translation of sorts. Furthermore, the navigator must be aware of the boat’s performance, certain wind angles, and target wind speeds to help make various sail choices.”

Because of there is an intricate relationship between the navigator, the data and forecast (the puzzle), and the team, there is a massive amount of respect between the team and the navigator. Carolijn explained that without this mutual respect, the navigator’s job would be impossible because the crew needs to trust their judgement of the forecast.

Miles sailed: 1500nm.

Miles to go: 2000nm.

By Corinna Halloran, Team SCA


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