x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Groupama tactic could be a windfall in Volvo Ocean Race's Leg 2

A course change to lower latitudes may put Groupama on a track to find the trade winds before the rest of the fleet as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam sails along in third.

The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team's 'Azzam' currently sails in third place as it searches, along with the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, for a way through a low-pressure trough to the trade winds that will carry it north.
The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team's 'Azzam' currently sails in third place as it searches, along with the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, for a way through a low-pressure trough to the trade winds that will carry it north.

A gamble by Groupama navigator Jean-Luc Nelias looks like it could pay off for the French boat and put them in the lead of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

On Friday night, Nelias took his boat deep into the lower latitudes searching for a way through the low-pressure line which for days has blocked the fleetfrom fast trade-wind sailing.

Saturday night Groupama was still placed sixth, but fresh breezes had propelled them through the trough line and closer to the trade winds, giving them a chance to catch the fast wind before the rest of the boats.

The rest of the fleet could be trapped by the trough for some time yet. Puma and Camper are battling for the lead and are now fully committed to their easterly track. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam and Telefonica are also continuing east and lie in third and fifth place, respectively.

Meanwhile, fourth-placed Team Sanya on Saturday made a dramatic tactical move, heading north towards a tropical depression forming off the coast of Madagascar which could see winds as high as 40 knots.

If they can slip between the island and the depression their strategy could pay off, but they also risk being trapped by the storm with no escape route from the punishing headwinds.