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Home » Sailing » Volvo Ocean Race: Team SCA for light, tight race out of the Med

Volvo Ocean Race: Team SCA for light, tight race out of the Med

When the Race start tomorrow at 14.00 in Alicante, the seven teams have about 25 days of racing in front of them.

They are leaving southern Europe in early fall, crossing the Atlantic to the waypoint Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, before turning back and towards an early summer in Cape Town.

They have a lot of both interesting and tough sailing – as well as strategic decision making – in front of them.

Libby Greenhalgh, Team SCA’s navigator, provides us with an overview of they can expect from a wind and weather perspective during Leg 1 Alicante to Cape Town.

“The weather and wind conditions are fairly uncertain as we start the Race tomorrow. There is a low pressure over northern Europe, which creates slack airflow over southern Europe. We therefore need to rely on the sea breeze situation. Also, we expect a weak front coming over around start time, and a lot depends on how active that front is. Most probably, we will have light, southeasterly wind of about 5-12 knots when we start. These light inshore conditions can make it quite tricky to get away.”

Overall, Libby thinks that they will have light and tight conditions getting out of the Mediterranean:

“We hope that the sea breeze will hold through the day, but we know that it shuts down in the evening. As we approach Gibraltar we expect a low pressure to develop, which we hope will give us reasonably western winds going into the strait. It is important to get in there first, so that we can capitalize on the acceleration that the formation of the strait could give us. At the moment, the weather and wind conditions once we reach the Atlantic on the other side is uncertain.”

Entering into the Atlantic from the Mediterranean within in a Race context requires some serious, strategic decision making for all teams:

“When we reach the Atlantic it is time to make our first big, strategic decision when it comes to how we should cross the Atlantic to Brazil. This might very well be the first time that we will see a significant split in the seven-boat fleet. We will have to pick the West or the South side towards the waypoint Fernando de Noronha, and this first big decision depends on the trade winds we encounter at that point. We just have to wait and see.”

After the trade winds it is time for the doldrums, a result of a low-pressure area around the equator, characterized by squalls, thunderstorms and hurricanes with heavy rain. However, sometimes the doldrums also have calm weather with little or no wind, which makes it difficult to get across. After that, though, there are more trade winds, and time to make the second, big strategic decision:

“After having rounded Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, we will get into the Southern Atlantic. Then will be faced with the second, big strategic decision about how we will sail towards Cape Town. Should we go straight to South Africa through the St Helena High or round it? Rounding is usually quick, but there may be an opportunity to cut the corner through the high-pressure system. We just how to wait and see. It will all be very exciting – and competitive.”

By Team SCA


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