The Ocean Race, Leg 4 Day 5 onboard Biotherm. Alan Roberts making a lashing on the outrigger. © Anne Beauge / Biotherm / The Ocean Race The four boats ra
The Ocean Race: desperately seeking tradewinds
The fleet is slow and the only relief will come from stronger tradewinds ahead of the doldrums early next week
The four boats racing north are in a challenging position. The wind is very light and unstable. The result? 24 hour runs of less than 180 nautical miles. That might be a good day on a 35 foot cruising yacht, but it's not what these IMOCAs were designed to do.
One look at the tracker tells you all you need to know - boat speeds of 5 to 8 knots are the norm today.
The local weather conditions created by the clouds are making for a game of snakes and ladders on the water, with big gains and losses available even when boats are relatively close.
"The deck is dry, but the wind is very shifty," said Seb Simon on GUYOT environnement - Team Europe who have moved up in the fleet. "This morning we could see Biotherm which was a nice surprise. It will be like this all day (generally light, gusty, clouds). It's nice but we'd like a little bit more speed."
The latest weather analysis has the teams sailing in light tradewinds for most of the day, but the windspeed should increase on Sunday to more moderate conditions as they close in on the northeast corner of Brazil and pass by Recife.
Then, Monday and Tuesday will see a passage through the doldrums.
Adding to the misery is the temperature.
"I feel like I'm under a magnifying glass," said Charlie Enright from on board a baking hot 11th Hour Racing Team. "It's warm. Very warm. A two hour stint in 'the bubble' (the plexiglass trimming station) is getting to be too much. The sun takes a toll."
Enright's team is still in the lead, but the spread from first to fourth is less then 30 miles. In these unstable conditions, any one of the four teams could emerge from the doldrums with the lead on Tuesday.
Further south, Team Holcim-PRB continue to progress towards Rio, and are expected to arrive on Saturday, local time.
The latest positions are on the Race Tracker and the leaderboard is available here