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The B&G Navigators’ Prize for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – Will Oxley of Team Alvimedica Wins Leg 9

The B&G Navigators’ Prize for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – Will Oxley of Team Alvimedica Wins Leg 9

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Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Leg 9 to Gothenburg

The B&G Navigators’ Prize for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 Prize is presented to the Navigator who has made the most effective use of meteorological, oceanographic and geographical information to gain distance on the majority of the fleet, as voted for by the Navigators themselves.

Each of the Navigators competing in the race has been asked to score his or her fellow navigators from one to six points during each leg, with Lorient to Gothenburg counting as one leg.

The Navigator with the highest points score at the of each leg will win a cash prize of $1000. The Navigator with the highest cumulative points score at the end of the race will win $5000. The Navigators are not allowed to vote for themselves.

The B&G Navigators’ Prize for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is, if you like, the prize for the ‘Navigators’ Navigator’.

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Leg 9 to Gothenburg

Leg 9 from Lorient to Gothenburg via The Hague proved to be one of the most tactically demanding legs of the race so far, as is well documented in Monday’s article by Mark Chisnell. It saw one of the most significant fleet splits in the whole race, as half of the fleet headed for the French coast and half for the English coast.

Will Oxley and Team Alvimedica were among the group which chose what proved to be the winning side of the Dover TSS; the French side. They arrived first in to The Hague and after the 24 hour pit-stop and re-start, they also crossed the final finish line of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in Gothenburg at the front of the fleet to win the leg.

Will Oxley is the winner of the B&G Navigators’ Prize for Leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

Here is what Will Oxley had to say to B&G about the decision making process which resulted in the win:

From Will Oxley – Team Alvimedica

There have been a lot of questions about the split of the fleet in the English channel and why we chose the southern (French) side of the Dover TSS. The decision was not an easy one and we delayed it nearly until the final western TSS layline to make sure we had the most up to date weather information.

At this point some background to the data we use on board seems worthwhile. We have access to two very high resolution weather models; the first is the HIRLAM (High Resolution Limited Area Model) available 4 times a day out for two days with one hour time steps. This is a 0.1 degree resolution model based on the EC model that consistently performs well, however it is only available in Europe. We also have access to the GCWF (Great Circle Weather Forecast based on the WRF model). Depending on where we are in the world the horizontal resolution of this model ranges between 0.1 degree (12-15km) to 0.001 (1km). This model went out from 2-4 days in one hour time steps. All the Volvo teams access these models using the marine weather software program SQUID produced by the company Great Circle (www.greatcircle.be).

Weather Briefing #4

It was analyses of these models that guided our decision making. Even before the restart in the Hague, our weather team identified a light air zone in the North Sea. As shown in the image above, the GCWF model suggested this light air patch would affect the boats who chose the northern route just as they were trying to get east around the top of the Dover TSS. However, it also seemed that the any yacht choosing the northern route would have an easier passage initially as they reached east on the English coast, while any boat in the south would initially struggle to get north around Cape Griz-Nez in light airs and against the tide. Nonetheless, if a yacht managed to not get completely ‘parked up’ then the southern option would ‘come good’ as the tide turned and you could reach along the French/ Belgian/ Dutch coast with a high tide allowing passage across all the sand banks with fair current.

Continual analyses of the new data as we sailed up the English Channel reinforced our belief that the light air zone would exist later in the North Sea and that the balance favoured south.

So our decision was to choose the southern route and take the short term pain accepting that the yachts behind who also chose this route would potentially catch right up. We also knew that any yachts choosing the northern route would initially get ahead but we believed they would eventually get caught out by the light air zone.

Luckily things worked out for us!

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Leg 9

Congratulations to Will Oxley and to Team Alvimedica from all at B&G.

B&G will announce the overall winner of the The B&G Navigators’ Prize for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 on Friday.

Written by B&G Team

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