Simon Fisher wins B&G Navigators’ Prize for Leg Five 15 Apr 2015
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’. Below, Simon Fisher of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing shares his thoughts with B&G in answer to a few questions…
B&G: What was the single biggest snake or ladder in this leg and how did/could you benefit or lose from it?
L.G: Staying in one piece with our sails!! I guess the biggest opportunity to lose rather than necessarily gain was staying in front of the first frontal system which gave the lead fleet a good angle to get across to Cape Horn while we ended up post front dead downwind in hideous sea conditions
B&G: In your opinion, which navigator pulled off the most significant and successful tactical or strategic move during the last/this leg?
L.G: This is tricky as looking at the fleet it looked like the racing was very nip and tuck and really about getting the much more here and now smaller scale shifts and positioning correct than there being any key significant tactical moves. Also their positioning was very different to ours and therefore it is quite difficult to judge. There were some splits in the fleet at the beginning with those that dug south early after the Bay of Plenty versus those that just kept going. I think here MAPFRE played the southerly route very well to the ice gate.
B&G: What information and/or interpretation of the data that you possessed during the planning stages or as the leg unfolded gave you the competitive advantage?
S.F: It is hard to pick out a single piece of information that made the difference. I think we did a good job of preparing for the leg together with Marcel van Triest and Chris Bedford despite the distraction of having an uncertain start time which consumed a fair bit of time and energy before we left Auckland! I felt well briefed on all the key areas of the course like the strategies around Cape Horn, sailing up the South American coast and the approach to Itajai. All of these areas had the potential to be quite complicated but the work we did before the start gave a lot of confidence to our decision making.
B&G: What decisions would you have made differently?
S.F: I think with hindsight tacking up to East Cape was unnecessary, Initially we were a little worried about how critical it could be to stay south of the trough that was extending off the back of the ex-Pam low pressure system but in the end it wasn’t really an issue and Brunel and Alvimedica made nice gains on the fleet by launching of the coast a little bit further north.
There was also a moment where as a fleet we all sailed NE away from the Ice exclusion zone to avoid the wake of a cloud which had created a big area of light winds. As a result of that we let Dongfeng who was behind into the lead as we also sailed north to keep the pressure but then came back again against the shift. I remember saying at the time it was one of those moments that we would probably be better of dropping the sails and waiting for the wind to fill in from behind! It would have been a brave move to deliberately sail in to a patch of no wind while the fleet sailed away so I’m not sure we would have done anything different without the benefit of hindsight.
B&G: Did you change your plans significantly during the leg based on the actions of your competitors?
S.F: We always race with one eye on our competitors, all our major decisions are based on our position relative to the fleet as well as the weather however I don’t think there was any moment in this leg where a boat did anything so radically different that it made us question our strategy or plans. With that said however with Dongfeng losing their rig we did have to think about how conservative to be for the remainder of the leg. They were the closest to us in terms of points in the race and with them out it became more important to finish than to risk everything going for the win.
And The Winner Is…
B&G received the feedback from Si-Fi detailed above just a day or so after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing led the fleet into Itajai to win Leg 5.
He explained “Another race that came down to the wire. I couldn’t bring myself to write this on the boat as I had a feeling the last few days might have been the most important! Here are the answers and the scores hopefully in reasonable time this leg. It was a belter of a leg and a dream come true to win it.”
B&G is delighted to announce that according to the points allocated by his fellow navigators, Simon ‘SiFi’ Fisher also wins the B&G Navigators’ Prize for Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.