Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Who's ahead?

Well this is interesting. According to Yachting World Brazil is ahead of Ericsson in the Volvo Ocean Race, but according to the official web site its the other way round. The reason for this uncertainty is that actually no one knows - it depends how you measure it, as you can see in the Virtual Spectator plot below.

In this piccy ABN-1 are way ahead to the south. The bright green line is the advantage line which connects all the points as close to the finish as the lead boat. The finish is to the right, to the east, so the line is nearly north-south.

Brazil is the blue dot to the east of the trailing group at the top. As it is furthest right it could be claimed they are in second place as they are nearer to the green line than any other boat.

But then again all the boats are heading south, and in this direction the Ericsson orange blob is ahead of Brazil. So in that case it is Ericsson that is is second place as its got further south than any of the trailing pack.

Who is right? It depends upon what happens next. At the moment the high is close to the Brazilian coast, but soon its due to move away, possibly opening up a passage between weather systems accelerating the boats that are in the right place at the right time towards the finish line. At some point the wind will back more and more westerly and the boats will veer off.

One way of looking at it is if Ericsson beared up to the wind and Brazil followed suit when it got to the same latitude who would be ahead. I think it would be Ericsson - just. So I think its Ericsson which is second. But the key now is to steer for boat speed, to get as quickly south as possible. But if you can get the same boat speed by heading a little more easterly then go for it. Brazil is playing its cards well and I'm sure Neal is looking over his shoulder anxiously.

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