Image © Brian Carlin/Volvo Ocean Race
Team AkzoNobel is making fast progress towards Newport, Rhode Island this morning as the crew takes advantage of strong winds from a cold front passing over the fleet on what is expected be the final day of Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8 from Itajaí, Brazil.
Sixth-placed team AkzoNobel has been making gains over the last few hours as the five boats ahead – Team Brunel (NED), Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), and Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) – all struggled their way through a transition from the stormy cold front to lighter winds on the other side.
At 0700 UTC (0900 CEST) today team AkzoNobel was travelling at 72 nautical miles (133 kilometers) off the lead with 296 nm (548 km) left to race to Newport.
An hour later the sailors had reduced that deficit by 10 nautical miles (19 km) as they blasted directly towards the finish line at speeds roughly twice that of their rivals ahead.
Team AkzoNobel will soon also have to negotiate the tricky transition zone between the strong south westerly winds of the cold front to the lighter fickle north easterly breeze on the other side.
However further compression of the fleet is likely as the winds ahead look likely to soften as the leaders sail upwind towards Newport during the day.
Whether this will be enough to create opportunities for the teamAkzoNobel crew to pick off any of the boats ahead remains to be seen, but either way the final hours of this two-week leg from Brazil will see little sleep for the crew.
Latest estimates suggest the leading boats will cross the finish line off the Volvo Ocean Race village at Fort Adams State Park around 2000 local time tonight/midnight UTC (0200 CEST on Wednesday May 8).