The final days of Leg 7 for Turn the Tide on Plastic and MAPFRE are proving long, slow and painful.
But the reality is, nothing can be done. A high-pressure ridge over the south Atlantic means the wind is very light and shifty making for extremely slow progress.
Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic is closest to the finish line in Itajaí, Brazil with just over 120 miles to run (as of noon UTC on Friday). But her team is barely making 6 knots of boat speed in less than 5 knots of wind.
“It’s not like the Southern Ocean where we could do that kind of distance in a few hours,” navigator Brian Thompson told his on board reporter. “Here, it will still be a long time in light air, light and fickle breeze, as there’s little synoptic wind.”
MAPRE is over 320 miles further back, but is starting to see some salvation as the breeze begins to fill in slightly.
“It is unbelievable how slow we are going and how difficult this high pressure is to cross,” wrote skipper Xabi Fernandez. “Finally we see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel as we now have 10 knots from the northeast, which is promising.”
The light winds make predicting an ETA difficult. It doesn’t take much wind for the Volvo Ocean 65s to pick up the pace significantly. But the latest ETA for Turn the Tide on Plastic is overnight Friday night UTC. MAPFRE will be nearly 24 hours behind.
The two teams who retired from Leg 7 are both now racing the clock to get to Itajaí in time for Leg 8.
Yesterday afternoon, Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag departed Chile with a delivery crew on board, and according to a team Facebook post are, “heading for the Strait of Magellan, then popping out in the Atlantic, and making a dash for Itajaí.”
Meanwhile, Vestas 11th Hour Racing provided this update: “Our crew is still in the Falkland Islands working hard to get to Itajaí. Boat captain, Nick Dana, has been collaborating with locals to get the boat ready to motor up the South American coast. A team of experts is arriving on site to make some final checks before the boat sets off at the end of the week. Stay tuned for an update on our plans from Mark Towill.”