Volvo Race fleet head for Cyclone Gita

AkzoNobel furthest south have reached the edge of the light winds of the doldrums and are slowing down meaning they are taking losses. Turn the Tide on Plastic are out to the east and are sailing a faster angle and making gains.Turn the Tide on Plastic, Annalise Murphy -

East-West position as they enter this area will be key. Mark Chisnell has taken a look at his crystal ball software to see what they face between here and Auckland.

And after a couple of days of pleasant and relatively low stress sailing, it’s going to get messy for the weekend.

The first point from this image is that the Doldrums are almost non-existent and they are clearly much narrower to the east – so that should indeed allow the eastern boats to make up a fair bit of lost ground as everyone races to get to the east.

The second point is that from here on, nothing will be normal.

The reason is the purple patch of 50+ knot winds to the north of New Zealand – welcome to the party Cyclone Gita.

Gita is going to have a massive impact on the routing from here on in. The track of Gita is unpredictable, but the broad consensus is that it will move west towards the coast of Australia before dipping south to cross New Zealand.

AkzoNobel, Nicolai Sehested in action - Click image for a larger image

The problem for the fleet is not that they are at any risk from this cyclone, but that it will take all the energy out of the atmosphere with it when it moves south.

By Tuesday 20 February Gita could be centred just south of Auckland. To the north of it there is a massive area of light winds that has been left behind in the wake of the cyclone.

Hence a massive detour in the predicted route will be required to avoid this, and they could end up sailing upwind through the Tasman Sea.

Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 6 - Thursday 15 February @ 19:00 UTC

1. team AkzoNobel -- distance to finish -- 2,623 nautical miles
2. Team Brunel +21 nm
3 Turn the Tide on Plastic + 30 nm
4. Dongfeng Race Team +34 nm
5. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +37 nm
6. MAPFRE +39 nm
7. Vestas 11th Hour Racing DNS

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