Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Cyclone Pam puts Volvo Ocean Race leg on hold

Reuters, AUCKLAND, New Zealand

Team Alvimedica, right, battles with Team MAPFRE as they set out for Leg 4 to Auckland, New Zealand, in the Volvo Ocean Race, offshore sailing’s most prestigious round-the-world race, from Sanya, in China’s Hainan Island, on Feb. 8. The fifth leg, from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil, has been delayed because of Cyclone Pam.

Photo: AFP

Cyclone Pam has forced Volvo Ocean Race organizers to postpone the departure of the fifth leg from New Zealand to Brazil this weekend with winds of up to 200kph forecast in the region.

Knut Frostad, chief executive of the marathon round-the-world sailing event, yesterday told reporters that he had no option but to delay the planned departure from Auckland to Itajai.

The six-strong fleet was originally set to depart for the 6,776 nautical mile (12,549km) voyage through the treacherous waters of the Southern Ocean on Sunday.

“We’re making this decision now because we don’t know the exact track of this tropical cyclone yet,” Frostad said. “It’s unusually big and essentially it’s blocking the road for our sailors, so it’s prudent seamanship from our side to leave them with options.”

Forecasts suggest that the tropical cyclone could strengthen further as it heads south and even if the system missed New Zealand, big swells and rough seas could still cause real problems for the fleet.

“Our biggest concern is the sea state, rather than the wind,” Frostad added. “The boats can handle a lot of wind, but there will be very big waves along the New Zealand coast, with nowhere to hide. We are not going to have the boats leaving Auckland before 1400 local time on Monday, but it could also be later. It depends completely on the movement of this tropical cyclone.”

The nine-month race is staged over nine legs and is due to finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

This story has been viewed 2087 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top