The Volvo Ocean race fleet crossed the equator for the fourth and final time. Tactical decisions, exhaustion – and seaweed – were the main preoccupations of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet midway through Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Friday as the teams hurtled towards a point east of the Caribbean.

The six crews continued to be closely matched with less than 10 nautical miles (nm) separating the first three and just over 65nm from first to last, but they are now well split laterally and can no longer cover each other’s moves via the onboard Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) held the slenderest of leads from Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) with both facing their challenges on the 5,010nm stage from Itajaí, Brazil, to Newport, Rhode Island.

For Briton Walker, it was seaweed which was the current concern.

“It has been better recently but the problem never really fully goes away. I remember the seaweed being bad in the last race, but not this bad. It is getting quite hard to race through here sensibly.”

Behind him, Caudrelier’s main concern was the forthcoming gybe east of the Caribbean islands, in a more northerly direction, as they attempted to catch the Emirati boat while keeping Team Brunel ), MAPFRE , Team Alvimedica and Team SCA at bay.

 

The boats are forecast to arrive at their destination between May 7 and 8. They will have 10 days in Newport for boat maintenance before heading out to Lisbon, Portugal, on May 17 for one final crossing of the Atlantic.

There are then two final legs that will take the fleet to France (Lorient), the Netherlands (The Hague) and Sweden (Gothenburg) before the race reaches its conclusion on June 27.

 

Photo: © Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica