Image © James Blake/team AkzoNobel
Tensions are high amongst the fleet with only seven nautical miles (13 kilometers) separating the top six boats in the fleet as they reach a pivotal moment in Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race to Gothenburg, Sweden.
The team have now passed around the beautiful south-western tip of Ireland and are heading in a westerly direction as they attempt to navigate through a key transition zone - a high-pressure ridge of lights airs - and capture the building southerly breeze that will propel the boats in fast downwind sailing conditions towards the top of Scotland. It is a key moment in the race, with the fleet due to turn to the northeast around 2100 UTC this evening, the first boat to get away in the breeze could be hard to catch.
As the Volvo Ocean Race fleet heads west, team AkzoNobel is the second most northerly boat, wedged in between Mapfre (ESP) – to the north – and race leader Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) – to the south. The team will be hoping to position themselves best to break through the ridge first and pull away from those around them. It is sure to be an anxious day as the team prepare for some fast sailing ahead.
Emily Nagel (BER/GBR), sail trimmer – writing in her blog from onboard overnight – described how the team are preparing for the sailing to come.
“Now past Mizen Head (southwestern tip of Ireland) we are trying to get north although the breeze has different plans.”
We can't complain too much about the light airs, we know by the time we get to Scotland we will be dealing with possibly 45 knots on our beam. It is not going to be a comfy ride up there!”
Chris Nicholson (AUS), team AkzoNobel boat captain, explains the mindset of the team as they enter a crucial few days in search of an overall podium position.
“I think the way forward for us here is simply just to score as high up the finishing order as possible. Certainly, the conditions ahead could have boats doing damage. You never know. We keep pushing the boat and sailing as quick as we can.”
At 0700 UTC (0900 CEST) team AkzoNobel was in second place in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, sailing west at 8.4 knots with 967 nautical miles (1,791 kilometers) to the finish in Gothenburg, Sweden.