The six competing vessels of the fleet in the ongoing Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) have departed Hong Kong on Wednesday as they made their way to Auckland, New Zealand. A hard slog is expected in this leg to Auckland and it has been labelled ‘dangerous’ in some quarters.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing skipped this leg of the race due to damage to their yacht. The bow will need to be rebuilt in Italy and shipped to New Zealand in line with the Volvo Ocean 65 class rule. The yacht will reach Auckland ahead of the fleet as they could not complete the repairs in Hong Kong.
After four legs of the race, Vestas 11th Hour were third on the points’ log but they were forced to retire after the crash in Hong Kong. The crash saw a fisherman on a non-racing vessel die. The crash is expected to significantly ruin their chances of winning the event this campaign. They have a tough task in leg seven to leg 11.
The other six vessels will sail from Hong Kong to Taiwan, then through the Philippines, and then through Fiji on the route to Auckland. A major determining factor would be the team’s performance towards the doldrums – five degrees north and south of the equator where trade winds collide. The doldrums are expected 1500km after Philippines and 4000km from Auckland. This leg is expected to be predominantly upwind unlike the rest.