Saturday, June 17, 2006

Black Betty's Boo Boo

As the last leg of the Volvo Ocean Race comes to a close there is no doubt that Mike Sanderson's ABN1 has dominated this race. Its performance has been clearly superiour both in boat speed and her crew's sailing abilities.

It's therefore interesting to see a rare tactical mistake off Denmark. As the fleet pushes through the light airs around the centre of a high they encountered a severe wind shift between the right and left hand sides of the course. In the figure above the wind direction - shown as a yellow arrow - can be seen to change through a right angle.

Consequently while at this snap-shot on 08:08 Friday 16th all boats are on starboard tack the angle they are making - black lines - is very different even when sailing close together.

Clearly the boats to the right can make a much better vector and those to the left are severely punished, with ABN1 in particular going from first to last in a few hours.

It just shows the importance of tactical decisions and the influence of getting the forecasts right.

Graphic from Virtual Spectator

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