Conditions have eased considerably for the teams since the latest storm. The wind is down, the sun is out and the skies are clear, giving the Southern Ocean a very different personality.
A much weakened front did eventually reach the front pack, with OneDLL skipper Olly Cotterell explaining: “We were not as badly affected by the front as some of the yachts in the back of the fleet. The most wind we saw was 70 knots. Still close reaching in sustained winds of 40 to 50 knots is not to be scoffed at and the crew did a fantastic job.”
Just 24 hours previously, most were sailing with their most cautious sail plans up, trying to control their speeds as the storm swept through them with unbelievable force. Yesterday however after making some good direction with big surfs, lighter winds set in as the day progressed, resulting in teams needing to make multiple, physically demanding sail changes to eke out as much progress in the right direction as possible.
All teams have now passed the half-way point in this highly eventful journey to Albany. Looking back on Race 4 so far, Invest Africa skipper Rich Gould reflects: “The Southern Ocean has certainly not held back in terms of showing us what it is capable of, the wind and the sea state have been incredible and I feel very lucky to be leading such a great team through some of the toughest conditions on the planet, in one of the most remote places in the world that you can take a yacht.”
Though teams have experienced some gusty squalls this morning, light, patchy winds are forecasted to continue over the next few days. Gareth Glover, skipper of leading team Qingdao knows it is all still to play for, saying: “The next few days of weather is going to be testing. With light winds, no true wind direction forecast and lots of wind holes to miss, we only need to sit still for a few hours and we will find ourselves playing catch up for the rest of this race.”
At 1000 UTC, Qingdao continues its lead, (1633 miles to finish) with Henri Lloyd closing the gap slightly in second (1669 miles) and OneDLL (1693.3 miles) now a little further back in third.
To read the skipper reports, click here.
For the Race 4 Race Viewer, click here.