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Volvo Ocean Race: Team SCR Play Catch-Up As Fleet Passes North Of Azores

24th May 2015
Volvo Ocean Race: Team SCR Play Catch-Up As Fleet Passes North Of Azores

#VOR - Almost seven days into Leg 7 of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race and there's finally been a split in the fleet, as Team SCA paid for mistakes along the Atlantic exclusion zone earlier in the week.

"The rest of the fleet is closer to the centre of the high pressure from the Azores," writes the all-women team's onboard reporter Anna-Lena Elled.

"The first boat out on the other side will get the new pressure and take off like a bullet for the finish line. We have to come up with something different."

That difference could be speed: catching higher pressure on the outside to make up their lost ground and nip at the heels of the leaders some 38 nautical miles ahead.

And with their current speed 25% faster than the top two teams, and with 9.4nm gained in the last few hours of this morning (Sunday 27 May), that plan appears to be paying off – but only three days of racing lie ahead before Lisbon.

Elsewhere, in the main pack there are two races going on: for the current leg, which as of this morning has Team Brunel in the narrow lead, just half a mile clear of MAPFRE, with Dongfeng Race Team another mile behind; and between Dongfeng and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, separated by just six points in the overall standings.

With Abu Dhabi currently behind the top three boats by 12nm – and Team Alvimedica between them – the next three days will be crucial to secure the best position for points.

Key to doing that in this incredibly tight and short leg is "the favourite Volvo Ocean Race game this time round", as Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier describes the AIS tracking system.

Designed with safety at sea in mind, AIS is now integral to VOR race strategy, as it allows boats to determine the speed and direction of vessels within 20nm – meaning reactions to other teams' moves can be much more than an educated guess.

"By the end of the race I will have without doubt spent more time in front of this game than on deck, and certainly more than at the helm," says Caudrelier.

Things will only get more complicated to manage when Team Vestas Wind rejoin the fleet at Lisbon – their yacht now fully repaired and headed from the Persico boatyard in Italy to Portugal by road in time for the fleet's arrival in port.

But back to the race at hand, and a leg win for Brunel would be sweet relief for skipper Bouwe Bekking, who this week passed the point where nine years ago to the day his then boat movistar was swamped by the Atlantic, forcing him to abandon ship.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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