Team Blog – Ian Walker – 3rd March 2012

Saturday, 03 March 2012 | by ADOR

Today has been a big decision day for the navigators and skippers from third place back. The strong west going current and headed winds meant that boats in there were looking unlikely to clear to the east of the Solomon Islands. This would mean huge losses to tack up to those of us further east or they could try to go through the islands. The weather models also swung slightly in favour of a more western route today and so it appears the decisions were made.

For Telefonica and Sanya this would have been frustrating after fighting to get up to the east, but yet a relatively easy decision due to the fact they were furthest west. For Camper it would have been very hard as they would be giving up on Telefonica, but able to consolidate over Sanya. Onboard Abu Dhabi we were caught a bit between the devil and the deep blue sea. To turn down west would have meant giving up Telefonica and Camper but would have consolidated over Sanya. To carry on east means a chance of third place (unless we can catch Groupama or Puma) but also a big risk of ending up last. This would be infuriating after sailing such a solid leg to date.

For Puma and Groupama there was no decision to be made as they are committed to the east. So who will win… East or West? It is fair to say that it is fluctuating between weather models as to which should be the favoured route. There are also some considerable unknowns such as the extent of any wind shadows under the mountains in the Solomon Islands and the very variable weather predictions. For sure the westerly route is risky (we have been looking at it for a few days now) but if you are at the back of the fleet or if all the boats behind you follow what is there to lose?

Having been in third place we have the most to lose, but to go west would have been to give up two positions anyway. This must be great viewing for the armchair navigators at home and whilst we are well and truly on our own out here now there will be much anticipation of each and every position report.

date: Saturday, 03 March 2012 16:04:09 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)

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Comments [3]

Saturday, 03 March 2012 16:26:06 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)
Telefonica, Camper and Sanya would rather pass Solomon eastwards if they had the chance. Consider this to be an oportunity not a risk and remember the real risky moves (Groupama and Sanya on leg 2, Puma on leg 3 and 4). Hesitation should be thrown overboard on such a race. By the way, my chair has no arms.
Saturday, 03 March 2012 23:01:10 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)
For what it's worth, I agree; albeit with the perspective my comfortable desk chair allows me. Ken's move coming out of the South China Sea looked the actions of a man gone 'round the bend, if one had not studied the weather and rapidly shifting winds. You saw that and even commented that though it could go either way for Puma, it was a gutsy call. Well, isn't that what open ocean racing is all about? You've been a risk take rand have realized both outcomes. And please don't misunderstand. I'm not trying to be cheeky; it's obvious to all of us cheering you and the crew on that you have the expectations of many weighing on every decision and tactical move. Like Obi-Wan said: "Let go, feel the force." Gut feelings and intuition are often a greater force than the empiricism of hard data. My best to you and crew. Sail on.


Tuesday, 06 March 2012 03:08:21 (Arabian Standard Time, UTC+04:00)
Now, after passing the Solomon islands you seem to be caught by the calm. Not your fault, it's the boat's upwind performance. And we saw plenty of upwind due to the stopovers in places that are rather linked to Camels and Ferraris than sailing. Downwind Assam may be one of the fastest. So look ahead - next leg is downwind. You are still ahead of Camper and very close to Telefonica if you can fetch the SE'ly soon. Go ahead and grab some points!
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