Friday, January 19, 2018


The best of all VOR legs had not a so interesting finish, a kind of an anti-climax sadly broken by Vestas collision with a small fishing boat that resulted on a dead fisherman.

Scallywag advance, that was conquered with a brilliant tactical routing option, was diminished by the closest pursuers, Vestas and Dongfeng, but in no time they were in position to overtake. Vestas decided to retire from the race after the accident, motoring to Hong-Kong with a hole on the bow.

While racing Vestas was always able to maintain the advance over Dongfeng that a slightly better option out of the doldrums gave them, even if they were not able to increase that advance. But something very positive happened on this leg: many boats chose very different routing options and that's what made this leg much better and more interesting than the others. And something very negative, the death of a fisherman.

Mapfre this time did not follow Dongfeng and was, among the leading boats, the big loser. He will be only 4th, now that Vestas has retired. That will not be enough to lose the race leadership but will allow Dongfeng to narrow the difference. Vestas had a big hit on the classification and this race seems to be now even more dominated by the French and the Spanish teams, on Dongfeng and Mapfre. 

What we have seen on this edition is that there are several teams that are very close in  sailing ability and that it was the routing the decisive factor. Till now we had seen 3 teams at the same sailing level, Mapfre, Vestas and Dongfeng and quite surprisingly on this leg we had Scallywag matching their sailing performance and winning over routing.

And regarding routing  Scallywag  changed from mediocre to outstanding with a new navigator, a woman, Libby Greenhalgh, a British, the SCA navigaror on the previous VOR and a meteorologist. She was able to find the right way to beat all the others. The true winner of this leg.

It is very funny because Scallywag's skipper, David Witt, had previously said that women would not have a place on his boat, referring to the new VOR rules that give an advantage in having women on board, allowing for more crew. I agree with him regarding this statement: "but I think the way the rule is written is actually derogatory to women sailors as well – what you’re saying is you can have an extra person but only a girl because they aren’t good enough", but he just forgot that there are some women that in what regards ocean sailing, are as good as men and he owes his victory on this leg to one of them. Let's see what he says about that at the end of the leg LOL.

Maybe Libby, Scallywag navigator, with her knowledge as a meteorologist, can be an advantage on the next leg, where between land masses, the winds are more variable and difficult, but in what regards the legs ahead with double points, the one on the Southern Ocean and the one on the North Atlantic, I don't believe she will have the experience to be at the same level of  Dongfeng in what regards navigation. They have on board not only a great navigator but several, all of them with a huge experience on those waters. 


  1. At 30nm from the finish Vestas collided with another boat.

    They did not ask for help. They said that they had some problems on the boat but nothing serious but they are drifting for many hours taken by the wind. It seems to me more serious then what they thought.

    AksoNobel is passing then now, it will be 3rd. It seems they are making a detour to see if Vestas crew is alright and if they need help.

    Mapfre is still 2 hours away.

  2. Charles Caudrelier, Dongfeng skipper said: "Our first thoughts revolve around this terrible news, and of course we are saddened to hear that it is always very dangerous to sail in fishery areas. There are so many boats, some of them without lights, that's bad news for the fishermen, Vestas and the Volvo Ocean Race. "

    As we all know by know a fisherman was killed due to the collision. This statements and the previous knowledge that those are crowded waters with small fishing boats, many without AIS or even navigation lights poses the question if it was reasonable or even safe to have a leg finishing in Hong-Kong.

    Some would say that it is easy to say after the accident but it is known that on those waters, Philippines and China, the safety in what regards fishing boats equipment, namely AIS and lights, is not the same as in European or Australian waters and the number of small boats much bigger.