Tonight at 2200 GMT, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is heading west, wriggling down the coast of Africa seeking the much-desired, but as yet non-existent trade winds. Although the light airs are only topping out at around 10 knots, the teams are still able to benefit as they observe closely the performance of their immediate opposition.
For much of today, the fleet has been on opposite tacks, although heading in the same general direction. Telefónica with Spanish skipper Iker Martinez and PUMA’s Mar Mostro with Ken Read/USA in charge have opted for a more offshore track, anticipating the wind filling in from the north, while new leader tonight, Franck Cammas/FRA (Groupama 4) and Chris Nicholson/AUS (CAMPER) have chosen to keep closer to the African coast.
Progress is painfully slow, although in the last three hours Groupama 4 has averaged the best speed of 6.7 knots; while the rest of the fleet has only managed three and a half to four knots.
The crew Mar Mostro, who are busy drying out their gear, resting and eating – the first time since the start of the race from Alicante on Saturday, appreciates the bonus of little or no wind at least for the moment. Boots have been swapped for sailing shoes, but this may only be a temporary solution as forecasts indicate that the breeze will increase tonight and then two additional cold fronts could bring breeze of 20-30 knots and yet more upwind boat-beating conditions.
Changes to the leader board this evening have seen Groupama 4 take the lead for the first time with Telefónica moving into second position. But the fleet remains tight and is only split by a fraction over nine nautical miles from first place to fourth and each team is waiting anxiously to see what the weather Gods will dish out in the next 12 hours.