On Leg 4, racing into their home port of Hong Kong, SHK/Scallywag made a radical choice exiting the doldrums, cutting the corner and taking the inside track towards the finish line. As a result, they sailed less miles and passed the entire fleet en route to a spectacular victory.
Fast forward to the early stages of Leg 6 where Scallywag again finds itself on the inside track, cutting the corner on the right hand turn to the south towards the finish line in New Zealand.
Just over two days ago, it didn’t look like a good move. Scallywag, along with AkzoNobel, were seemingly marooned 120 miles behind the leaders.
But as of 1300 UTC on Monday afternoon, skipper David Witt and his team of Scallywags were at the head of the ranking, with all six teams in the fleet within just five miles on distance to finish.
The way Scallywag and AkzoNobel have come back into the fleet from 100-plus miles back hasn’t gone unnoticed by the previous leading group.
“They have been dealt a lucky card, annoyingly,” said Dee Caffari, the skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic, talking about Scallywag. “They made a mistake, really, but they’re going to stay in this cold front longer. They’re going to be happily sailing in 20 knots, while we’re dealing with this transition.
“But they will have a worse angle in the longer term. We think it will pay to be further east and we’re hoping it does pay off for us eventually.”
The transition to the new breeze means the group of four boats positioned furthest east (but also further to the north) are currently sailing in light, unstable winds, trying to make gains to the east to pick up the trade winds.
MAPFRE, Turn the Tide on Plastic, Dongfeng Race Team and Team Brunel are all within sight of each other, separated by less than four miles, and all are struggling to make progress.
But on the other side of the transition, in the new breeze, conditions will be good for making miles south towards the doldrums.
“It looks like a pretty quick transition into about three or four days of tight reaching. We’re looking forward to getting into it,” said Team Brunel’s Peter Burling.
“The wind will slowly build as we get into the trade winds, and we’ll be reaching with the wind at about 65-degrees. We’re pretty happy about that because we seem to be pretty quick in those conditions.”
But for the moment, it’s Scallywag and AkzoNobel who are reeling off the miles, trying to build enough of a buffer to lead through the trade winds and into the Doldrums.