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Volvo OR: Scallywag still looking good for Leg 4 win

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 14 Jan 11:17 NZDT 14 January 2018
Tense times at Scallywag's nav station - Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, day 12 Position report time and everyone is keen to know how they are getting on against the fleet on board Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag. © Konrad Frost / Volvo Ocean Race

At the race sked (2036UTC on Jan 13, 2018) the Hong Kong entry SHK Scallywag is still favoured to win Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race and be first into her home port.

Over the last 24 hours the David Witt skippered/Libby Greenhalgh navigated Volvo 60 has negotiated one of the difficult stages of her final run - working her way through the transition from the Doldrums to the Tradewinds. From here on the winds are expected to increase from the 10kts of 24 hours ago to the late teens and early 20's - giving her similar speeds through the water.

The latest sked (22:48UTC) shows Dongfeng Race Team as closing the gap on SHK Scallywag with the Hong Kong entry still holding a smaller advantage on three of the four weather feeds used for course optimisation and finish time projection.

Plotting her projected finish times using the weather routing function of Predictwind.com Scallywag is still expected to take six days 20hrs under the most pessimistic weather feed - but that will give her a 2hr advantage over the second third and fourth placed boats - who are covered by just 1hr using the same method.

More encouraging for Skallywag is that three of her four course projections are very close to agreement, meaning the outcome of the weather prognosis is more certain.

The other three leading competitors, who are all to the north of Skallywag all have some significant deviation in their course options. Because she tacked early for the finish line in Hong Kong, in an effort to cut the corner on her rivals who had opted to continue heading north to escape the clutches of the Doldrums, Scallywag only has the option of a straight line course to clear the northern tip of the Philippines before turning for the last stage to Hong Kong.

The others still have the ability to come up or down on their projected course options. However, that is only expected to affect their place relative to each other with Scallywag still looking good for a leg win.

One of the feeds (PWE - shown in red in the course recommendations) involves a major course deviation for Skallywag - which while looking viable on the computer screen does involve the Hong Kong entry sailing an addition 40-80nm - which is unlikely to be followed.

Interestingly two of the four feeds now show an advancing typhoon hitting the Leg leader on the final day - where 24 hours ago this last section of the course was predicted by all four feeds to be a stretch of light weather - which could have played into the hands of the three immediate chasing boats.

Scallywag is likely to remain on starboard tack right through the finish line for the next five to six days of the leg, which is expected if she is to carry the Tradewinds for almost of the remainder of the leg.

Although the race finishes are projected to be very tight for the second to fourth places, Dongfeng Race Team is narrowly favoured to finish second.

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