Looks like some potential rules trouble that the VOR might be sweeping under the rug. It would appear that Dongfeng, Mapfre, and SCA entered the feared Traffic Safety Separation Exclusion Zone. Below is Abu Dhabi’s Matt Knighton’s perspective. Jump in the thread here for all the dope!
“I wanted to be in front of Dongfeng so we could control them”, Ian said in frustration as he sat on the bow in the light wind. “Now because of all this Exclusion Zone business, they’ve managed to slip away from us.”
Just minutes earlier, we had gybed several times around an invisible mark in the ocean. The spectators on the last few power boats shadowing us would never have guessed it was there – there was no blinking buoy or square floating mark – it’s marked by GPS coordinates.
This specific mark was the corner of a larger box that forms a Traffic Safety Separation Exclusion Zone. Consisting of two lanes for incoming and outgoing ships with a figurative barrier between, oceangoing vessels use these TSS areas for safety in high traffic areas. Before the leg, race management decided that teams needed to either respect the correct flow of traffic in the lanes or not enter the zone at all.
Dongfeng, Mapfre, and SCA entered the zone.
We watched as their courses on the nav computer sailed deeper and deeper into the red colored box against the traffic flow. Their routes didn’t just cut the corner on a piece of open water with little significance – no, they were the equivalent of riding a bike across an eight-lane highway and then turning left into oncoming traffic.
They had raced several miles down the course while we had to perform several tacks to get around the zone. Ian, SiFi, and the rest of the guys – still buzzing on deck from the magnificent send-off in Newport – were furious at the loss.
The day has now turned to a familiar darkness and below deck you can hear the light drips of water on deck from the dense fog bank we’re sailing through. The deck is faintly glowing through a dull haze lit by the red instrument lights.
Chuny somehow managed to smuggle a half dozen bags of potato chips onboard before we left and just broke a bag open. Sharing it with all the guys gathered around the nav station, there’s a faint crunching sound as every eye is fixed on the gap that’s growing between Dongfeng and ourselves. Will there be a penalty? We don’t know. All we can do now is chase them down as Lisbon grows nearer on the horizon.”