x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Lack of wind makes it not plain sailing for Azzam

Unhelpful conditions for sailing left the crews in the Volvo Ocean Race frustrated.

The Volvo Ocean Racing field had a frustrating time with no wind to help them.
The Volvo Ocean Racing field had a frustrating time with no wind to help them.

CAPE TOWN // The first night of Leg 1 brought too much drama, and the first night of Leg 2 brought too much boredom.

When morning came yesterday, the six contestants of the Volvo Ocean Race still floated near the Cape of Good Hope with windless conditions and timeless frustrations.

"All our weather strategy is in pieces now," Ian Walker, the skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, told the Volvo website, which called the fleet's progress "painfully slow" as it had not hooked into the reigning low-pressure system as anticipated along the way toward an early-January arrival in Abu Dhabi.

Walker spoke of sailing 0.6 nautical miles in two hours and joked about befriending an ever-present rock.

Will Oxley, the navigator of Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, said: "We might be having Christmas in Africa yet."

Telefonica, the Spanish entry and overall leader in the race after winning Leg 1, dropped its anchor, which the watch captain Neal McDonald preferred to "going backwards".

Mike Sanderson, the skipper of the Chinese entry Team Sanya, called it "frustrating" while reminding it trumped the first night of Leg 1, when Sanya broke its hull.

The same would hold for Walker and Abu Dhabi, which suffered a broken mast that same November 5 night and rebuilt its rigging around a back-up mast across the ensuing month.

By afternoon yesterday, the boats lagged along at slow speeds with the French entry Groupama in the lead, everybody waiting and Abu Dhabi in a barely consequential fifth place.

"We made a great exit from Table Bay" near Cape Town, Walker told the Volvo staff, "and built a nice lead before getting swallowed up by the fleet as we sat in no wind further up the coast."

He said Abu Dhabi's Azzam "got caught too near the shore and we have paid a huge price."