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Team AkzoNobel makes tactical switch to Stealth Mode on final approach to Auckland


Team AkzoNobel switched into Stealth Mode at 0100 UTC (0200 CET) and so will not appear on the tracker and in the next three six-hourly position reports sent to the fleet – or until the leading boat is within 200 nautical miles of the finish. 

We asked our navigator Jules Salter (GBR) to explain the thinking behind the move and this is what he told us...

Hi everyone

We have gone into Stealth Mode partly because hiding your position for three reports is a feature you may as well use at some stage on a leg. 

In the conditions we are racing in currently everyone has a pretty good idea of where and how fast everyone else is headed. We have left it to the last moment to apply the blackout as we are in now lighter and more unstable winds. 

Because we are ahead of the pack that means some of the boats could use us an indicator of the conditions in that area of the race course. To be fair, using the weather models and their own observations and skill most of the navigators can already accurately infer the details of our position, the wind direction and wind speed.

So if we were not in Stealth Mode we would only confirm what they already know - but there is no need for us to make life any easier for them. 

Normally if a competitor sees something different from their plan they could adjust their route from behind to avoid a slowdown ahead of them. In this instance however we will all pass close to North Cape [the northern tip of New Zealand] and there are very light winds to the north east. That has created a very slim corridor that all the boats will have to pass through. 

So there is a chance that us being in Stealth Mode may give them extra impetus to keep pushing if they see boats ahead slow down, as will likely be the case here. That said, all the boats always sail hard all the time so this is probably not such a big deal.

Finally, there is a chance that we will not complete a full 24 hours in Stealth Mode as we will get automatically switched out of stealth early when the leading boat gets within 200 nautical miles [370 kilometers] of the finish line.

Hopefully that leading boat will be us!

Cheers, 

Jules

[Image © Richard Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race]

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