VOR competitors experience calm before storm on fourth day of Leg 3 23/2/06

Competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet are currently making the most of the quiet conditions on Leg 3 of the race and preparing themselves for some big winds ahead.

According to the recent weather forecast a strong low which developed out of the remnants of a tropical storm is moving south-east and is expected to reach its closest point to the first ice gate (around 44 degrees south and 150 degrees west) today, about the same time as the VOR yachts.

While the ice gates are intended to keep the boats out of the worst of the ice danger, several potential ice targets have been identified by C-Core, a Canadian remote sensing firm. The identified targets are along the course between 45 degrees south and 50 degrees, and between 165 degrees west and 160 degrees west. This information has been passed on to the boats and they will no doubt remain on the lookout. The small mostly submerged growlers, which are often found in the area of the larger icebergs, are the real danger. This means the sailors must spend more time over the next few days keeping a careful watch outside the boat for ice, in addition to focusing on the sailing.

At the latest positioning report, the Spanish movistar team had a narrow lead over Paul Cayard’s Pirates of the Caribbean, while Mike Sanderson and team on ABN AMRO One were eight miles adrift but on a course furthest south. Chatting from the boat last night about the pending conditions Sanderson said: “One of the reasons that it is worthy hurrying to the gate, apart from the result, is the fact there is a chance that it will blow 50 knots there within 12 hours of us getting there? so the race is on, against the competitors and Mother Nature.”