VOR – SCA and MAPFRE have jibed first putting SCA in the lead. It was short lived though as the teams going off to the west made out big. Below is a short explanation of the decision making being made:
GO EAST OR WEST?
“No one wants to be the first or the last to gybe.
“When someone gybes, the others follow not to lose ground in the short term. People worry a lot about what’s printed on the Internet!”
Andrew Cape jokes through the Inmarsat iSat phone from the middle of the Arabian Sea. Team Brunel are in second position, steadily catching up miles on the first boat, Dongfeng.
And their navigator is tired – he didn’t sleep for the first three days after leaving Abu Dhabi for Sanya, but there is one big call coming and he won’t miss it.
Go east, or west?
On the face of it, it’s a fairly simple dilemma.
Go east, and you get closer to the Indian shore. It’s tempting, because it cuts the corner to the Cape Comorin and Sri Lanka, and allows you to escape the light airs of the high-pressure system currently sitting southwest of the fleet.
But the forecast confidence is low, and you’d have to sail through a series of low-pressure troughs, navigation hazards and fishing fleet.
Ah, and the closer you get to the coast, the more you’re affected by the thermal variations of the wind.
Still tempted? Well, look at the other option available.
Go west, and you’ll follow a safer offshore route. The monsoon situation should be clearer and the breeze, steadier. There are less risks of encountering a floating object, and it places you for a safer approach of Sri Lanka.
“If there was no other boats, I’d go offshore,” admits Capey.
He should know: he’s done the race five times before, and once with his skipper Bouwe Bekking.
So these are the two options available to him and to the five other navigators. That’s without counting with the fleet tactics and the wind direction though.
If the first boats go one way, the ones at the back are likely to follow. And if the wind shifts to the east, they will all have to gybe to change tack.
“It looks like people are already committing to the offshore option, from what I’ve seen,” adds the Aussie.
“There have already been a lot of major decisions to make, but we all went at the same time because everyone was so close and could see each other. The gybe tonight will be pretty much the same.
“We’re only four days into this leg: no one wants to take a long-term decision yet. No one wants to be a long way from the opposition. We’ve got a lot a variability to come in the Bay of Bengal and the Malacca Strait.”
By the time we wake up tomorrow, the six boats should have gybed. But whether they follow each other or not, whether they split up or not, well, no- one quite knows.
The game is on, and Capey loves it.
“It may look very boring on the Internet, like everyone is sailing the same way, but when you’re on the boat, you’re getting little puffs, gaining 100 metres, and they make a huge difference in the long run.”
He insists on the “huge”, with his heavy accent.
“Look, we were last out of the Gulf and we slowly worked our way back in second.
“No, it’s good sailing. It’s tricky!”
See if the girls can stay ahead or if the teams going offshore will launch them back into the lead: FOLLOW THE FLEET BY CLICKING HERE!