x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

'Terrifying and exhilarating' as Azzam move into second place in Leg 4

Winds over 20 knots, waves up to four metres and an ominous sounding "Black Tide" current continued to make life challenging for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet.

Conditions onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Conditions onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Winds over 20 knots, waves up to four metres and an ominous sounding "Black Tide" current continued to make life challenging for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet last night as Abu Dhabi's Azzam moved into second place on the leg to Auckland, New Zealand.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were just four nautical miles behind Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand on a day Nick Dana, Azzam's media crew member, last night described as "just another Groundhog Day".

Just over 16 miles separated the six boats yesterday evening as the fleet continue to track north east towards the southern tip of Taiwan where they hope to exit the South China Sea.

Hamish Hooper, the Camper media crew member, reported on the Volvo Ocean Racing website about how difficult even the most basic and mundane task can be in the tumultuous conditions.

"Going to the toilet … in the bow of a Volvo Open 70 in 20 knots and dropping off three metre waves – both terrifying and exhilarating at the prospect of how badly things could go," Hooper wrote.

"We are sailing with a current of about two knots with us [which is good], but it's going against the swell [not so good], which creates such confused seas.

"Every now and then a set of large steep waves with no backs to them come along and the helmsman have to spin the boat on the crest of the wave so as not to crash directly off the back of it.

"We are continuing to sail a course, which regrettably is taking us further away from Auckland. It is something that has to be done if we are to minimise our time in the painful light air forecast for the while and to navigate our way as best we can across the three knot Kuroshio, or 'Black Tide' current which runs north past the Luzon Strait to the east of Taiwan and then north east to Japan - again the wrong way to Auckland … torture!"

Puma were last night at the back of the fleet and Amory Ross, their media crew member, said that predictions of a longer leg meant rationing of food and vital supplies had already begun.

"Our predicted 18 day leg has turned into a 20 day one, maybe even 21 or 22; it is hard to know as the models keep changing," Ross wrote.

* Agency