Competitors are preparing for a wild ride for Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 8/2/06

According to initial weather routing by team navigators reported on the VOR website, the VOR fleet looks set for a wild ride to Wellington next week, riding a 40kt front all the way from the Bass Strait, across the Tasman Sea to the Cook Strait between New Zealand’s North and South islands.
The fleet sets sail from Melbourne at 1300 local time (0200GMT) on Sunday.

Movistar navigator Andrew Cape and ABN Amro Two navigator Simon Fisher agreed there were prospects of a very fast passage across the Tasman courtesy of the front. Cape said that although it was early days, the predicted passage of the cold front would virtually match the speed of the boats so they would ride it, or the back of it, for most of the passage to New Zealand.

Fisher (pictured left) said the situation was still dynamic, but predicted much the same weather as Cape, “Even if the front goes through, there should be fast, broad-reaching conditions behind it as we close on Cook Strait and Wellington,” Fisher said. He said there would be three phases in the race:

Getting out of the sea breeze and Port Phillip Bay, and into the western gradient of weather in the Bass Strait below Wilsons Promontory.

Riding the south-west front across the Tasman.

Negotiating Cook Strait with the wind behind the front easing.
Cape said the fleet could well be on a starboard gybe all the way there, about 1,400 nautical miles once the boats had cleared the promontory and set course for Wellington.

“That would put the fleet on the top of the South Island by midday on the 15 (Wednesday),” he said.

An international jury will sit in Melbourne on Thursday at 1000 local time to hear a protest from Ericsson, which is seeking redress for allegedly being wrongly recalled at the start for crossing too early.