Race officials finally posted the full replay of the Alicante…

Race officials finally posted the full replay of the Alicante in-port race on YouTube, though apparently they kept it hidden for a while, which confuses me, but whatever. Commentary after a cut to preserve the dashboards of the non-obsessed.

Boats designed to surf monster waves in the Southern Ocean aren’t the easiest things to get around a short windward-leeward course in 8 knots of wind. But for me this race was surprisingly exciting to watch for one reason: The whole thing was basically over before the starting gun went off.

I’ve linked to that point in the video (around 8:31). Analysis with screenshots follows.

Here’s a helicopter shot with 1:26 to go:


The wind is blowing from the right. That powerboat sitting by itself toward the lower right is the race committee boat that marks the right end of the starting line; the tiny yellow dot above it is the inflatable buoy that marks the left end of the line.

The seven Volvo 65s are easy to recognize because of their sponsor graphics. Lining up on starboard tack in that group in the lower left, AkzoNobel is in front with the purple and blue sails. They were skippered in this race by navigator Jules Salter, because previous skipper Simeon Tienpont quit/was fired a few days earlier. (There are dueling press releases and much drama; it’s all still playing out as of Monday.)

Scallywag is the boat closest to the camera with the gray sails and the red and white swoosh. Vestas/11th Hour is the light blue main with the dark blue stripe and the white headsail, and Dongfeng is the red and gray sails beyond them.

Coming toward us to the left of them on port tack is Brunel, whose strategy apparently was to swoop in behind the other boats and tack onto starboard at the last minute. But tacking one of these boats with a Masthead Code 0 in light winds is a tricky maneuver.

Just coming into view in the extreme lower left is Turn the Tide on Plastic (TTToP), skippered by Goofball Boat Mom Dee Caffari. They haven’t even unrolled their Code 0 yet. But that’s fine; the boats in front of them are early and will have to kill time.

Way up at the other end of the line, that little red mainsail is MAPFRE. Like TTToP they haven’t unrolled their headsail yet. They’re just hanging out, jogging slowly toward the pin end of the line. The race commentators are going to offer them premature condolences in a minute. But with the benefit of hindsight, looking at this image: They’ve already won.


With 1:11 to go, Brunel is making their tack. They’re slow rolling up the headsail (a requirement for tacking the Masthead 0), though, and it’s going to hurt them badly. On TTToP, Boat Mom has unrolled her headsail and is starting to move into view in the lower left. Meanwhile, MAPFRE is still just chilling out there at the far end of the line.


With less than a minute to go, AkzoNobel is bearing off to avoid being over early. Vestas has them pinned to leeward, though, so there’s not a lot of room. Brunel is head to wind with their headsail furled. It’s been 13 seconds since the last screenshot, which means this tack is taking them a long time. Boat Mom is diving down to try to squeeze in to leeward of Scallywag.

MAPFRE still hasn’t unrolled their headsail.


At 47 seconds to go, the four starboard-tack boats closest to the line are all reaching off to avoid being over early.

MAPFRE’s just hanging out. Um, guys (and gals): You realize there’s a race today, right?


Thirty-seven seconds to go. The three lead starboard tack boats are a mess. Dongfeng has the right of way as leeward boat, and is holding the other two up toward the line rather than giving them acceleration room. Scallywag is diving down to prevent Boat Mom getting a leeward overlap and doing the same thing to them. Brunel has completed their tack, but they’re so far below the line and in such disturbed air from all the shenanigans ahead of them that they’re basically stuck in the water.

Aboard MAPFRE they finally have a headsail, yay! But that’s not all they’ve got:

  • They’re right up on the starting line, rather than 3-5 boatlengths to leeward of it like the other boats. In these conditions that’s huge.
  • They’ve got clear air.
  • They’ve got an open stretch of water into which they can accelerate.
  • They’ve got a position that in a minute is going to give them the right side of the racecourse, where they’ve (correctly) predicted the wind is going to be stronger during the coming beat.

On the other hand they’re on port tack, and every other boat has the right of way, so they’re basically going to have to duck the entire fleet. But given all the advantages listed above, it’s worth it.


Thirty seconds. The lead group of starboard tackers has hardened up for the line, though they’re still a little early. Each of them is trying to create a gap to leeward into which they can accelerate. But since they’re all trying to do it in the same place none of them is being particularly successful.

Meanwhile, MAPFRE is reaching off with the Masthead 0 trimmed for speed.


Twenty seconds. The leading five starboard tackers are all using whatever gap they have to try to build speed. Brunel is still stuck to leeward.

MAPFRE has started to bear away to go below the starboard tackers. It’s a controlled maneuver, though, unlike the speed-killing gyrations the other boats are doing.


Ten seconds. The starboard-tackers are all hardening up for the line. Brunel is basically parked.

It’s hard to see them, but MAPFRE is screaming in (relatively speaking) on port tack, aiming to shave the sterns of the fleet.

Here’s what that moment looked like from MAPFRE’s perspective, courtesy of the video they posted to Twitter:


They’re approaching Dongfeng, the lead boat in the starboard-tackers. Antonio Cuervas-Mons (”Ñeti”) is on the bow. As bowman his job is to tell the helmsman (Pablo Arrarte) where to go, because it’s easier to judge the distances from the bow.

The closed-fist gesture means “hold your course.” The wind-it-up gesture means “go for it; head closer to the starting line.”


Ñeti calling the duck of AkzoNobel. This is a key moment. Looking around the front of the headsail, Ñeti sees something that Pablo on the helm can’t see: Brunel is going so slowly that a gap has opened up in front of them, and MAPFRE has a chance to squeeze through. So Ñeti gives the wind-it-up sign: go for it.


That same moment, two seconds before the starting gun, from the helicopter’s perspective.


MAPFRE charging through the gap just after the gun. They’re now in disturbed air, but only for a few seconds, and the speed they’ve built up lets them punch through.


And they’re off, heading away from the fleet in clear air toward the stronger wind on the right. When the fleet comes back together at the top mark MAPFRE is ahead, and with mistake-free sailing they never give up the lead.

And that, long-suffering readers, is how you win a boat race before it’s even started.

¡Vamos MAPFRE! 😀

Reposted from http://ift.tt/2wZjXwb.

Tags: sailing, vor, volvo ocean race, sailboat racing, ¡vamos mapfre!.

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