It was an unusually fast and windy leg 2 for the Volvo Ocean Race teams who sailed from Lisbon to Cape Town just a few weeks ago. But don’t be fooled by the wet and wild photos from the most recent leg, which look pretty gnarly, but in fact set the teams up for a dreamy doldrums crossing (there was actually wind in this typically windless area), and a steady breeze that escorted them throughout the entire leg. What will be different on this slightly shorter, 6500 mile leg? Well, to start, the temps will be COLD, the ocean will be bitter and the weather will deliver much of the same windy punch as in leg 2, but this time with an Antarctic bite that will chill bones and boats and make the salty slog through the notoriously angry Southern Ocean that much more difficult.
Leg 3 is a return to the roots of the Volvo Ocean Race, when these southern legs spent most of their time near the icebergs and deeply rooted in the southern, and yes, shorter, route to the next stop. In this case, the next stop will be Melbourne, after the teams survive the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties and the Shrieking Sixties. These high wind zones basically worsen the further south in latitude you go, hence the desire in the past editions of the race to keep the racers further north, clear of icebergs and damaging winds, which could do a lot more damage to these lighter, more modern and much faster boats.
This leg is going to be all about risk taking and who is least afraid to push the boats and the sailors hardest. However, there will be some reward for the extra risk, as the leg itself is worth double points at the Melbourne finish line. So the victors will taste an even sweeter dose of a podium finish here – and all the teams will be fighting to be atop that podium in Australia.
This Sunday is the start of Leg 3, with another crazy near-shore course to set up the boats on a parade before taking on the Southern Ocean. The In-port race is up next on this Friday, the 8th, giving teams another change to rack up points for the leaderboard. Teams will be fighting hard again until the finish line, with an expected arrival date in sunny Melbourne of approximately Christmas day.
Watch the In-Port Race live on Friday on the VOR Facebook page and then again on Sunday to watch the teams head off for Leg 3. It’s sure to be a brutal leg and an exciting one to watch from your armchair, cozied up at home.
Again, we’re rooting for our hometown team, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, with our 2 TotalBoat Ambassadors aboard, Skipper Charlie Enright and bowman, Nick Dana. These 2 have some ocean miles under their belts which belies their age, although many salty VOR Veterans will be visiting the Southern Ocean for the umpteenth time, and there is something to be said for that extra experience in the steep, dark waves of the southern latitudes. Only time will tell us whether youth and dogged preparation can beat determination and experience to the finish line.