After three days of dodging container ships, unlit fishing boats and all manner of objects floating in the sea, Team Telefónica navigator Andrew Cape couldn’t hide his relief at being clear of the Malacca Strait – but said the danger is not over yet.
“There's oil rigs, islands, mud banks and everything you can think of, plus a huge amount of debris in the water with logs and trees" - Andrew Cape, Team Telefónica
Not only is Cape charged with getting his crew around the world ahead of their five rival teams, he must also ensure their safety as they take on some of the most dangerous bodies of water in the world.
“I can't put into words how relieved I am to get out of the strait,” Cape told volvooceanrace.com. “It's a nightmare and I'm really, really relieved that nothing went wrong and even happier that we managed to start in first place and finish there. There’s serious relief all round. It’s good to be out.”
Telefónica led the fleet out of the strait and into the South China Sea yesterday, but four-time race veteran Cape said more challenges lie ahead in the race to Sanya.
“It’s a pretty uncomfortable place to sail, with obstacles in the way again,” he added. “There's oil rigs, islands, mud banks and everything you can think of, plus a huge amount of debris in the water with logs and trees. But that's the game we've got so that's what we've got to do.”
The main tactical hurdle on the final phase of the leg revolves around the strong current that sweeps down the coast of Vietnam and winds offshore blowing up to 35 knots.
Whether the teams choose to hug the coast staying out of the strongest tide and biggest seas but sacrificing better winds, or gamble against the current and sea state in favour of higher wind speeds, could hold the key to success – or failure.
“We've just got to work out the best way to get to the finish,” Cape said. “Unfortunately that involves heading up towards Vietnam, where there's stronger winds particularly on the corner.
“We have to take that on and hopefully it won't be too bad and the winds won't be super strong. So we just have to make sure nothing goes wrong.
“That will be a very tricky stage. Hopefully the next day will be pretty straightforward but the Vietnam part will be very tricky indeed.”