It’s been a very interesting tactical weekend in the VOR. On Friday, despite the handicap of a broken forestay, Telefonica Blue – which had opted for a southern route – was leading the fleet, whilst Ericsson 3, which had taken a big gamble by heading east north east after the scoring gate, was 100 miles adrift. First to analyze those tactics in detail was Green Dragon navigator Ian Moore who is sitting out this leg: “So finally after 6,000 miles of generally tactical racing amongst the fleet we have a strategic split of over 400 nautical miles. Ericsson 3 in the north, Telefónica Blue in the south with the other 3 stuck a bit in no man’s land. The big question is who are going to be the winners and losers.
Ericsson 3 is likely to continue north east and try and reach up and over the approaching low pressure system. They are the only boat with this opportunity and it is hard to see how this will not net them a massive gain against the three middle boats. The middle pack are not far enough north to go the whole way over the top of the low, which means they will sail a shorter course to the south of the low but be on the wind for most of those miles. This could easily see Puma emerging up to 4-5 hours behind Ericsson 3 on Saturday afternoon. Ericsson 4 and Green Dragon could be even further back.
So what of Telefónica Blue? They are committed to a more southerly route. At the moment they look to be sailing round the south side of a small high, which is sitting over the ice waypoint gate. Their problem is how to get north again to sail through the ice gate. They have 2 options. Go on the wind early and try to reach the west end of the gate, or hope that the weather throws them a lifeline and gives them an opportunity to get back north and the east end of the gate. I normally like a southerly route in this part of the world, but the position of the ice gates is far from normal and it has distorted the course in such a way that normal rules just don’t apply. Some of the routing has Telefónica doing alright and holding even with the boats in the north. My feeling is they will take a bit of a loss to get back to the first ice gate putting them back in 3rd or 4th place by the second ice gate.”
Moore was pretty accurate, except that Telefónica Blue has come off even worse than he thought, but then he may not have been aware of the forestay problem when he did his analysis. Last time we checked, Ericsson 3 was almost 150 miles ahead of Puma and Ercicsson 4, who were yet again slugging it out. Green Dragon was 90 miles behind them, but traveling faster, whilst the Blue was 366 miles of the leader, but finally into some decent winds. It’s become a real “watch this space” race and you can follow the stories without leaving SA. Wet, reaching pic from Green Dragon’s media guy Guo Chuan. More from all the boats here.