The seven boats of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet set out for the 6,125 nautical miles (nm) Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with warnings of possible cyclone activity and tropical storms ringing in their ears.
Race organisers took late measures to keep the 66 sailors away from the very worst of the weather on the Indian Ocean with a new exclusion zone leading to the Seychelles. There were already zones in place to avoid icebergs in the Southern Ocean and the more unlikely menace of pirate attack further down the route on the east coast of the Indian Ocean. The latter zone was being kept secret from the public to avoid the possibility of the fleet being intercepted.
Even by the Life at the Extreme standards of the world’s toughest professional sailing event, the leg was shaping up to be a big test for all involved and the emotional farewells of several sailors on the dock from their families before departure bore testimony to the nerves on and off the water.
From the very start on Wednesday (1800 local/1600 UTC), the fleet’s sailors were given a taste of things to come with gusts of up to 35 knots kicking up a procession of white-capped waves.It was a question for all of ‘don’t break your boat’ as most opted for conservative sail choices while they wrestled to keep them under control and intact.For the second leg start in a row, Team Brunel took the honours for leading the fleet out of port after wrestling the lead, first from MAPFRE, and then Team SCA.
The fleet will continue to sail in these gale-force conditions which Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright (USA) described before the start as ‘heinous’. “I think we’re all going to have to be pretty conservative,” he told the skippers’ press conference, just over 24 hours before departure. “This could be the worst sea state these boats have ever seen.”
Dongfeng Race Team’s Charles Caudrelier (FRA) is one of the most experienced sailors in the fleet, but conceded he had yet to meet a tropical storm in a distinguished career record that includes victory with Groupama in the last edition. “I think I prefer to steer away from it,” he told the conference with a smile.
Favourites for the leg will be Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), who have barely made a false move so far since setting out from Alicante on October 11.They followed their 12-minute win over Dongfeng Race Team in Leg 1 on November 5, by securing victory on Saturday in the Cape Town in-port race.Walker, 44, was determined to keep his crew’s feet on the ground – as well as his own. He was asked if there were such a thing as ‘home advantage’ in sailing with his team heading towards their home port in this leg.
“First we have to get there,” he smiled. “I’ll just be happy just to get within range and then arrive in Abu Dhabi. There’s a fantastic welcome for everybody in store once we get there, that’s for sure.”
The leg is expected to take between 22 to 28 days to complete, depending on conditions. The boats will remain in Abu Dhabi over Christmas and the New Year before setting sail again on January 3 for Sanya, China.
LEG 2 DETAILS
Start:Wednesday 19th, 1600 UTC, Cape Town
Leg 2 – Cape Town-Abu Dhabi:6,125 nm
Leg Duration:23/28 days approx
ETA (Estimated Time of Arrivals) in Abu Dhabi:11-15 December
LEG EXCLUSION ZONES(see map attached and online Leg 2 Addendum)
ICE LIMITS -The ‘Ice Limits’ are positions used to form an imaginary line that Boats shall leave to starboard. 45° 00.000S 20° 00.000E, 45° 00.000S 30° 00.000E
. EAST AFRICAN EXCLUSION ZONE – The East African Exclusion Zone is a great circle line between adjacent marks: Maputo (east coast of South Africa), Madagascar, virtual mark 1, virtual mark 2 and virtual mark 3. While racing a boat shall not cross this line.
IRANIAN EXCLUSION ZONE – The Iranian Exclusion Zone is formed by positions used to form a line. Straight lines between adjacent marks shall form an obstruction that boats shall leave to starboard.
STRAITS OF HORMUZ OBSTRUCTION – The Straits of Hormuz marks are positions used to form a line that is an obstruction that Boats shall leave to starboard while entering the Arabian Gulf. Straight lines between adjacent marks shall form the obstruction.