The five boat fleet prepares to sprint to Abu Dhabi after being shipped across the Indian Ocean
The main five-boat fleet will restart racing at 1000 local time (0600 UTC) on January 4 with a 98 nautical mile sprint and an estimated arrival time at Abu Dhabi’s Destination Village of around 1600 local time (1200 UTC). Fans will be able to track the boats, and get up-to-the-minute ETAs, via the website on the day.
With six points on offer for the first boat to reach Abu Dhabi, the scene is set for an intense battle between the closely matched fleet. To add to the excitement, weather forecasts predict a strong Shamal desert wind which could mean challenging conditions for the crews.
Having been forced out of the first leg after breaking their mast in the South Atlantic while lying in second place, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG recovered to finish the first stage of Leg 2 in third and are currently fourth in the overall standings.
PUMA skipper Ken Read says his team are hungry for points and will be racing flat out to be first into Abu Dhabi. “We absolutely need the points,” he said. “There’s a couple of teams at the top sitting very comfortably and the rest of us are trying to catch up.”
The restart comes after organisers were forced to split the leg into two parts because of the heightened threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean. The boats raced to an unnamed Safe Haven before being loaded onto a ship for transportation through the worse affected areas to a point off the Sharjah coastline.
The painstaking task of safely offloading the five Volvo Open 70s is planned for Tuesday, after which the crews must prepare their boats overnight for the dash to Abu Dhabi starting at 1000 local time (0600 UTC) the following day.
Despite its relative shortness, Read says the final section of Leg 2 will be no coastal cruise, particularly with a Shamal wind to deal with.
“The Shamal only happens every once in a while and sure enough we are expecting a big one on race day,” he said.
“Close to the coast there will be some some big waves and it will be very fast and furious on board all the boats for sure.
“It should be spectacular. Everybody will be sailing with all the stops pulled out.”
In the meantime, if the demands of Christmas and the New Year have meant that your eye has been taken off the ball, here’s Volvo’s latest video on the story so far.