It's worked for Mike and the crew of ABN AMRO ONE twice before, but will it work again? Diving south they give up short term advantage for longer term positional gain. And again, having passed the second ice gate of leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race it's a familiar sight on Virtual Spectator, with Black Betty's nose further south than the others.
At the ice gate the direct route to Cape Horn was about 126 degrees true, but the fleet headed not just south but south-west, with courses of up to 197 true, sailing 70 degrees away from the rumb line. Of course given the wind direction the "perfect" course might have been direct down wind but they were heading a long way off course on the so-called "penguin" route.
Already there's been a hit. On the race track between ice gates the boats lined up like beads on a wire, and Pirates were forced to watch as ONE extended their lead hour by hour as the latter showed off her broad reaching power. It also showed up Ericsson weakness - despite there being stronger wind further back she still slipped slowly down the table, and have now lost a place to the fast catching up Brasil (unless they've had another spell of bad luck).
But also the wind forecast isn't always stronger the deeper south you go. For example in the forecast below for 48 hours out the wind is better slightly higher up.
Who has got it right, the Pirates or Black Betty?
Roll-up, roll-up now, and place your bets!
Pictures from Virtual Spectator and www.stormsurf.com