VOR Leg 2 Lisbon to Cape Town

southerncross

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Short lay over in Lisbon so why not.

The basics:

This one is a 7,000 nm run south, starting from Lisbon on 5 November, and going from the coast of Portugal to Cape Town at the southern tip of the mighty African continent. It’s a classic north to south Atlantic run, passing through multiple Climate Zones.

Err... what’s a climate zone?

The earth’s oceanic climate features distinct bands, lying horizontally and looping the globe, running out from the Equator to the Poles in a mirror image. When they race from north to south, the fleet is constantly crossing from one band of climate to another – the trick is finding the right entry and exit points for each transition, a moment when conditions can radically change and gains and losses can be spectacular.

What are the challenges? 

Subtropical High Pressure Zone (Horse Latitudes): Let’s not be so negative, a challenge is also an opportunity, and there are many opportunities to make gains on this leg. The first is a little thing called the Azores High – a Sub-Tropical High Pressure Zone named after the island chain. 

This is the first climate zone the fleet will encounter, sitting around 30-38 degrees, these are huge areas of stable, semi-static high pressure. Also called the Horse Latitudes, so named because the light winds associated with these areas of high pressure slowed up the old sailing ships so much that they would run out of water and be forced to throw the dying horses overboard. Or so they say.

Trade Winds: The Azores High also determines the position of the second oceanic climate zone, the Trade Winds. These are moderate to strong winds that blow consistently towards the equator from the north-east in the northern hemisphere, and the south-east in the southern hemisphere. So there are two belts of trade winds that girdle the globe, each blowing from a Sub-Tropical High Pressure Zone towards the equator.

Depending on the position of the Azores High, the fleet could pick up the Trade Winds off the start in Lisbon and ride them all the way south – fast, fun sailing in glorious conditions. But if the high pressure is sitting over Lisbon, the fleet will find themselves struggling for speed in the light winds. In this case the race will be on to reach the Trade Winds first – slow, stressful and no fun at all, unless you’re winning.

Island Chains: The Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands both lie in the way as they head south – these are both volcanic, high pieces of land, and they can impact the strength and direction of the wind for hundreds of miles. And that means lots of overtaking opportunities.

The Doldrums (ITCZ): South of the trade winds lie the Doldrums, or intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), a region of low pressure that envelopes the earth’s oceans roughly at the equator. It occurs because warm, moist air rises (relative to cold air), and there’s plenty of that in the tropics. The Doldrums are famous for thunderstorms, light winds, rain and sudden unexpected gusts – all-in-all  a  nail-bitingly high level of unpredictability.

Incidentally, for the weather nerds, it’s the cooler air from the north and south of the Doldrums that is sucked in to replace this rising air, and this helps form the north-easterly Trade Winds of the northern hemisphere, and the south-easterly Trade Winds of the southern hemisphere.

A good Doldrums crossing can win this leg, and a bad one can lose it for you. So this will be a tense time. The key is picking the thinnest point to cross and usually that’s more to the west, so the boats will head that way until they pick their spot, and then turn south to go for it. Legend has it – and the legends run deep on this one, back to the days of clipper ships – that the sweet spot is around 27-28W, but anything between 25W and 30W can work. 

St Helena High: The thing about the climate zones is that they are mirrored north to south about the Equator. So the Azores High has a mirror sister sitting in the South Atlantic, sometimes called the St Helena High for the island. High Pressure means light wind and so it blocks the direct route to Cape Town.

The teams will probably go to the west of the centre of the high, and try to work their way down this side. It’s almost always quicker to head south, around the centre of the high, to get into the final climate zone, which we’ll call the Westerly Storm Track.

The Southern Ocean and the Westerly Storm Track: In the Westerly Storm Track, storms and low pressure systems swirl west-to-east around the globe. They circulate the Arctic in the north and the Antarctic in the south, always moving west to east. The strategy is always to get clear of the Sub-Tropical High Pressure, and into the Storm Track, find a low pressure system moving east and ride with it. It will accelerate a boat east across the South Atlantic, often taking them into the Southern Ocean, and sometimes take them right into Table Bay. First to become a rider of the storm will usually win it.

Lots of opportunities, must have meant some big winners?

Oh yes, in 1997-98 race- newbie Paul Cayard and his navigator Mark Rudiger boldly split from the fleet to lead EF Language south from Fernando de Noronha. The move got them into the Westerly Storm Track first, they picked up a ride and it gave them a lead that they never relinquished, going on to win the race. Sweet.

 

stief

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 was going to say thanks for starting this thread . . .  

FWIW, Scoring info [bold mine]

[SIZE=10pt]23. SCORING [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]23.1 [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]A modified RRS Appendix A shall apply to Legs and In-Port Races: They will be scored on a high points basis: The winner shall score 7 points, 2[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]nd [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]shall score 6 points, 3[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]rd [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]shall score 5 points, 4[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]th [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]shall score 4 points, 5[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]th [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]shall score 3 points, 6[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]th [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]shall score 2 points and 7[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]th [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]shall score 1 point. Boats that do not start or do not finish a Leg or In Port Race will score zero points. These points shall be doubled for the Legs that start in Cape Town, Auckland and Newport. Boats that complete Leg 5: Hong Kong/Guangzhou/Hong Kong shall score 1 point each. The Guangzhou In-Port race will be scored on the same basis as the other In-Port Races. [/SIZE]





[SIZE=10pt]23.2  [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]One bonus point shall be awarded to the winner of each Leg (this is not doubled for the Legs that start in Cape Town, Auckland and Newport), and to the first boat to pass the longitude of Cape Horn (67 16 20W) and to the boat with the lowest overall elapsed time for the Race (not including Leg 5). Boats that do not finish or do not start a Leg will be awarded an elapsed time for that Leg equal to the time of the last boat to finish that Leg plus 24 hours. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]23.3  [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]Eleven Legs are scheduled; each Boat’s score shall be her total for all Legs. The boat with the highest series score wins and others shall be ranked accordingly. Ties on overall points, will throughout the race be broken in favour of the boat with the highest overall position in the In-Port Series. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]23.4  [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]In some individual venues there may be two In-Port races, the scores of which shall be combined and will only count as one race in the In-Port series: (The Round Hong Kong Island Race will count as the second leg of the Hong Kong In-Port race). Ties will be broken in favour of the boat with the best score in the final race in the venue. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]23.5  [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]If an In-Port Race is sailed in flights the scores shall be combined and will only count as one race in the In Port series. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]23.6  [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]Up to eleven In-Port Races are scheduled and each Boats score shall be her total for all In-Port races. The boat with the highest series score wins and others shall be ranked accordingly. Ties will be broken in favour of the boat with the best score in the final In-Port Race. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]23.7  [/SIZE][SIZE=10pt]When an In-Port Race cannot be completed on its scheduled day the RC will use the in-port section of the leg start to determine that ports In-Port Race placing’s. The Boat’s placing when she passes through the final gate of that course will be used to calculate her In-Port Race points. When there is no in-port section then there will be no In-Port Race points awarded for that port. [/SIZE]


[SIZE=9pt]Notice of Race for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, Amendment 8, 27[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]th [/SIZE][SIZE=9pt]October 2017 [/SIZE]lazy link http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/noticeboard.html



  I guess this is not a double point leg because  . . . Alicante--CapeTown leg is already split in two by the Lisbon stopover. 

 

southerncross

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Left has always been the favored route but a big split like that would be nice to follow.  Looking forward to the SO approach to Cape Town.  

Haven’t done the math but seems double point scoring could either shake things up (hopefully) or secure a win for a strong team.  If one team happened to win all the double point legs for example and placed in the others.

 

TheDragon

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7000nm miles with some tricky strategic decisions and diverse conditions not worthy of double points? WTF

I'll be in Cape Town kitesurfing from December 2 to mid-January so will be able to watch them arrive, as well as watch the in-port and start of leg3, should be fun. I might even get out there on a kite for the leg3 start, so if you see some idiot kiter getting mixed up with the boats, it might be me!

The Volvo70s in-port race in Cape Town was spectacular back in the day, viewed from the 10th floor of a beachfront block of flats. I also got to the Miami stopover for the "in-port" race there a few years ago, but it was so far off shore it was hard to figure out what was going on, even from the top of a beachfront hotel.

 

stief

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7000nm miles with some tricky strategic decisions and diverse conditions not worthy of double points? WTF

I'll be in Cape Town kitesurfing from December 2 to mid-January so will be able to watch them arrive, as well as watch the in-port and start of leg3, should be fun. I might even get out there on a kite for the leg3 start, so if you see some idiot kiter getting mixed up with the boats, it might be me!

The Volvo70s in-port race in Cape Town was spectacular back in the day, viewed from the 10th floor of a beachfront block of flats. I also got to the Miami stopover for the "in-port" race there a few years ago, but it was so far off shore it was hard to figure out what was going on, even from the top of a beachfront hotel.
Lucky you. 

FWIW, RaceExperts is already looking at the weather. Time to ask for a beta tracker that can display Remora projections and all the Windy options of cloud, current, and different weather models?


 
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Miffy

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Brunel confirmed rudder and hull damage. But minor enough to be sorted by Wednesday. 

 

Chasm

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This time we have Bugio Island to port. Otherwise its stay out of 2 TSS zones and the  Antarctic ice zone.

 

stief

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@Fiji. Could be. Couldn't find a source, but didn't hunt too hard. Shrug.

Speaking of sources, Gonzalo did much work in past editions figuring out routes based on potential stopovers. Good to see a bit more info on the method.

 Thanks Gonzalo:


 
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stief

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Nice work once again Herman (and thanks for the info about CPN). If I'm reading this right, less 'west is best' this time. 

Guess we'll hear shortly or at the skipper's presser what the teams think about extending the course to meet a target arrival date. Yuck.

 
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southerncross

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Herman, that doesn't look as west as last time.  Weren't they pushed close to the coast of Uruguay?  But as you said, preliminary.

 


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