VOLVO OCEAN RACE: THE FIRST 48-HOURS OF LEG 3 - FLEET SPLITS AS DEPRESSION NEARS
December 12, 2017: SOUTHERN OCEAN - Leg leader Dongfeng Race Team has been joined by MAPFRE, team Akzonobel and Team Brunel in a more southerly pack, while Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Turn the Tide on Plastic have chosen to forge their course around 25 nautical miles to the north.
The differing routes reveal the first signs of each of the teams' strategies for dealing with the violent Southern Ocean depression that is forming to the west of them. When it hits, predicted to be on Thursday, it is forecast to bring winds of up to 60 knots, and waves more than 13 metres tall.
The more southerly group initially reaped the rewards with a few extra knots of boat speed overnight but at 0700 UTC that advantage had all but vanished. In fact, the quickest boat in the fleet at the latest position report was Vestas, clocking up an extra 1.5 knots on Dongfeng's 15.7-knot average.
The fleet is likely to converge again later today as they line up for the next major move - a gybe north this evening to skirt an area of high pressure directly to the east.