After a short break in New Zealand, Team SCA is back!
During the stopover, Team SCA's shore crew has been busy at the team base camp preparing our boat for the next leg to Brazil. Our Volvo 65 has been out of the water, refurbished, refitted and customized for the special conditions expected in the Southern Ocean.
From now until we set off for leg five, everything seems to happen very quickly - time literally flies. Bag after bag is being packed, weighed and loaded onto the boat, and we are all crossing our fingers that we will have everything we need for the famous roaring forties and furious fifties.
As well as ensuring we have everything we need for the journey ahead, we have also been very busy hosting local school children at the SCA pavilion in Auckland harbour. Over the course of the stopover we have opened our doors to around 330 children aged 5-12 to learn more about the inspiring story of SCA and Team SCA.
After watching a short film about the race and getting to try on the crew's wet weather gear, the children also learnt about SCA's latest innovations, including the Tork brand's "Ella's Hand Washing Adventure" mobile app, where the groups were encouraged to get their hands wet like the Team SCA sailors!
It was great to see the kids having a great time splashing around and learning all about the importance of good hygiene on board the Team SCA boat, which is a good thing as it looks like we're going to be getting pretty wet too...
Right now there is a tropical cyclone named "Pam" with very strong winds east of the Solomon Islands moving down. As this moves south towards New Zealand and Auckland (more than 100 knots or 50 m/s) it looks like the start of leg five will be quite spectacular!
Currently the centre of the low pressure is due to hit about 500 miles northeast from Auckland at the time of the start. A typical strategy is to more or less aim for the centre of the storm. You essentially follow the centre as it moves and this will eventually give you a good wind angle that will take you exactly where you want to go.
As we think ahead, our general strategy for this leg is to get south to the consistent westerly winds. Though how far south we go depends on the prevailing conditions and the bone-chilling ice gate.
If we go back and look at the history of the race with the slower boats they used to use, the crews often sailed as far south as they dared to go without taking the risk of hitting an iceberg. Today, with the faster Volvo 65 models, it's much easier to follow the weather systems and take a less direct route. You're quite happy to sail longer distance as long as you sail fast.
The weather graphics are currently all red which means an average of 30 knots wind speeds or more. It's exciting, but at the same time we know it's going to be rough for the crew, rig and boat. Therefore our initial priority is to keep the boat and crew in one piece!
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