photo credit: Dongfeng Racing Team
As the overall race leader, Ian Walker often likes to say, “There’s plenty of golf left in this hole!” He is probably correct again. There are several obstacles left before they can cross the finish line in Newport and sample the town’s legendary hospitality.
The first of these obstacles is the Gulf Stream flowing northeast along the American coast. At the point where the fleet is crossing it right now, the flow juts out off the coast and turns east. This will work to the advantage of the fleet.
They effectively are crossing a moving river from further upstream and will reach the other bank having been swept downstream and closer to their goal. The water temperature measured with a thermometer on the boats’ keels has suddenly risen 3º from 22º to 26º C.
In sailing terms, it’s allowed them to sail better VMG (Velocity Made Good) and with the same wind angle. The wind direction was also affected, shifting 20º from 210º to 230º. The Gulf Stream just keeps giving because all this resulted in a bonus speed over the ground of 3 knots.
This just made the teams even happier as they eagerly look forward to seeing those Newport fans tomorrow, Thursday, May 7 (latest ETA updated on the Dashboard). Each team is crossing in a slightly different place so, this time Ian Walker might be heard saying, “There’s plenty of Gulf Stream left in this hole!”
The second obstacle waits 120 nautical miles from their current position. It’s an area of light winds that will almost certainly result in yet another fleet compression.
The leading pack of Dongfeng, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Brunel will need to look over their shoulders. This could be where Team Alvimedica shows their local knowledge as they are easily in striking distance of the front.