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Board » Flag Officers » Races » SOL World Race: Leg 2 Analysis

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Leg Update: under 12 hours in, boats rounding Cape Agulhas. Hugging the coast in the first hours paid off. Boats now evenly spread across 20 NM in a straight line, no group having a signficant advantage. Boats to Nth - lighter winds, better angle. Boats to sth, more wind, longer dist. Boats will disperse now as strategy is played out. Decision - how far sth to you go and how far east do you go? Some nasty holes appearing across the course in 21-23 hrs. Where do you position yourself?

--- Last Edited by NZL Reg at 2011-12-12 01:56:19 ---
[Edit - please do not upload bitmaps, use a compressed format]

--- Last Edited by aaronadmin at 2011-12-12 03:29:53 ---
I have been tweeting Askel Magdahl, the navigator on Sanya who pulled off that clever passing move to win the Rio leg of the last Volvo race on Eriksen 3. He said he uses Expedition and Deckman plus some of his own routing software. I wonder what course he is working on for this Dhabi leg??
Day 2 Analysis
As expected, the southern boats where able to ease sheets in more pressue, good angle & head east at max boat speed. The line of boats pivoted in a nice orderly fashion over 15 hours - see attached. More importantly its all about postioning at this point with light wind coming and a gybe coming up in 4 hours. At the same time you have to balance short term gains with a longer term strategy. The longer term plan looks very messy with no logical path, plenty of shifts and a wall of no wind across the course.

--- Last Edited by NZL Reg at 2011-12-12 19:36:05 ---
The SOL fleet has just enough distance on IRL that we should still be able to run plan B to hook into the trailing edge of the system ahead of us.

Look for the boats further South to negotiate the upcoming shifts (positioning and timing critical) before either tacking N to rejoin the main group Tuesday evening or splitting SE.

As always the key is to look far enough forwards. Where do we want to be in 72h?

It looks good to pick up strong wind from the NNE and ride a close reach well East before tacking almost due North, and it seems like boats will be on similar paths until then regardless of how wide they plan to round Mauritius.

--- Last Edited by 76Trombones at 2011-12-12 20:37:59 ---
01d10hr into the race:

After 34 hours, a leading pack is emerging containing many of the favourites. This bunch kept close to Cape Horn before trending ESE. They separated from a second group who kept close to Cape Agulhas. The gains of the leaders were due keeping on stronger wind as the inshore boats sailed into a hole. They also sailed faster angles than those who went south earlier, initially by easing sheets and then by sailing higher as the wind backed.

This strategy paid off after about 24 hours, as the leaders kept in stronger winds for longer. The wind easied from the north and west meaning that anyone further east gained, provided they were at the right latitude of 36S.

The next 24 hours looks very interesting. A large hole is drifting over the fleet, faster than the boats. This will result in the fleet spreading out. A blocking ridge of very light pressure is to the SE, which has forced most boats to gybe NE. The wind is forecast to veer 180 degrees, so the wind will come forward. This may help the more northerly boats as they may get the pressure first, but the southerly boats will have a better angle.

The route to Mauritius still looks challenging. How far south to sail and when to head north? Will anyone take the inshore route which may have better pressure but mostly headwinds? How to avoid the holes and stay in good wind? Part 1 of this leg is far from over.

--- Last Edited by NZL Scotsman at 2011-12-13 01:14:19 ---
Day 3. Decision time - when to tack.
This decision has really been made for us with a wind shift coming thru in a couple of hours. Once the tack is made, expect a long run east with no real opportunity to head NE in the near future. Objective is to then stay in the pressure & not to get dropped off the back of the NE windflow

There has been an opportunity to pull back a few miles on some of the leading boats by taking an advantage of a 15 degree wind shift. see attached.

--- Last Edited by NZL Reg at 2011-12-13 19:53:23 ---

The die's been cast for the first half of the leg at least. Somewhat of a four-way split in the fleet depending on options taken at the points Reg and Scotsman have discussed.

The group furthest South comprises the SE split that I suggested last post, who continued SE directly rather than tacking North. They're dangerous as wildcard candidates to hook into the high ahead of us and go the long way around. Huge extra distance, but if they can get the timing right it will be a thing to see!

Next is a small group that split early from the North going boats using a small shift to gain Easting early, tacking at least three times. The goal is to overtake the high and tack on it's trailing edge.

The "middle" group that waited for the stronger shift before tacking only once is in good shape, put playing a more dangerous game flirting with the dead zone chasing that's already eaten most of the fleet.

Finally the boats further North and those who have fallen off the back side are going to pick up strong wind from behind shortly, putting them on a completely different strategy. Watch for some boats to stay closer to the African coast. They have the advantage of putting miles down in the right direction while the others chase off to the SE. If a bridge opens close to the exclusion zone or the SE fleet gets marooned they stand to do well.

--- Last Edited by 76Trombones at 2011-12-14 11:59:08 ---
For the middle boats its a drag race to 37S 54E. For the boats at or near a line from Wetstuff to 76Trombones its all about coaxing every little ounce of speed in order to order to turn "our imaginary corner". Former leader Ita10267 is about 120nm of the pace, just a reminder of how fickle any lead is on this leg. As 76T says the die is cast, all we have to do is wait a couple of days to see how it all plays out.
Day 4 Update.
Quite an eventful 24 hrs. At the start of the day, the majority of boats where heading NE, rather tightly bunched. The question was, when to tack back East, as 76Trombones illustrated. The boats that delayed their tack intially looked to be in a very strong position. Then new wx came through which hurt the boats to far north - they couldnt get on the back of the stonger winds. The fleet is effectively split in 2 - see attached. The West group will pick up strong winds building from the Southwest - a chance for the boats behind to gain miles. This wind will swing to the South which will allow boats to point directly at the mark.

The east group has sails eased & is trying to get east as quickly as possible, as Exmeromotu explained. The group is quite spread right now, but I see them compressing North to Sth as the north boats will start to drop more south as they start encountering a NE clocking wind. It is imperative that boats stay in front of the dying winds.

What group will win out - we wont know the answer for a while..

4d10hr report

The blocking ridge of high pressure has caused a large split in the fleet. Several hundred boats have lined up behind the ridge in a 600NM long NNW-SSE line. At one stage about 12 hours ago, it looked like it would fill and allow the northern boats to make good progress. However, the latest forecasts show the ridge continuing to hamper progress. Once it fills enough for more rapid boat speed, these northern boats can follow the shortest course for a day or two and will move rapidly up the rankings. Then they likely face strong headwinds for about 800NM when passing south of Madagascar and onto the next mark at Mauritius.

The group that made it through ahead of the ridge are probably in the lead. They are now almost 500NM east of the northernmost boats, but much further south. This group has about 100 boats and are spread out over 400NM (NW-SE). The previous leader ITA10267 just made it through at the very north of the group. The big decisions for these boats are how high to sail now and when to tack. They are likely to pass to the north of the South Indian High and therefore are on the wind or a tight reach for several days. As the high is moving east, the winds continue to be from predominantly a north or north east direction, which makes the timing of the tack quite difficult. Tack too early then progress may be lost by sailing in northerlies, tack too late then winds may be lighter and more distance will be sailed. There is a good chance they will have fast reaching conditions for much of the time heading north.

The “wildcards” in the south are very few in number. I’m one of those and currently the boat furthest east. There is only really one other boat down here, although some of the southern boats in the group above could follow. Their opportunity to dive south is closing as the wind becomes more westerly, and lightens, as the front passes over them. I expect to stay ahead of the front all the way to the high. My challenge is when to head north and try and get around the high, in about 60 hours. I’m making good miles, but have many more to sail than anyone further north. 550NM days are certainly enjoyable and hopefully my winds continue to be fair.

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