Simon Fisher wins the B&G Navigators’ Prize for Leg Six 19 May 2015
On Monday 13th April the Corinthian website reported that Simon Fisher (SiFi) had won the B&G Navigator’s prize for Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. As all the navigators involved mark each other’s performance, this prize can be described as the prize for the ‘Navigators’ Navigator’ and SiFi can now add the same prize to his list at the completion of Leg 6 aboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
B&G took some time to ask SiFi a few questions about Leg 6 – here’s what he told us…
B&G: In your opinion, when planning the routing for this leg, which were the most challenging/least predictable factors to consider?
SF: Generally this leg is one of the more predictable – lots of trade wind sailing means conditions are generally very similar to the historical or theoretical routing although that doesn’t mean the leg is without its tactical challenges that is for sure! There were a few opportunities to say ‘it’s not normally like this!’ In the lead up to the start the was considerable un-predictability in the behaviour of the South American cold front that was pushing up into the South Atlantic trades. Neither weather model seemed to be capturing what was happening perfectly and there was considerable difference between both the EC and the GFS models which we rely on the most, both before the start and in the early stages of the leg. There was potential for quite a big inshore/offshore split in the fleet at Cabo Frio depending on which model you put your faith in but the herd mentality of the fleet put that one to bed early on!
B&G: As the leg unfolded, how closely did your routing follow your planned course?
SF: I think we sailed a leg without too many surprises which means we didn’t have to deviate too far from our ideal routing. Although the routing couldn’t be planned down to the finest detail ahead of the leg we managed to do a good job of identifying the potential options in various areas of the race course to take the stress out of the decision making in the moment. From the outset we spent time looking at the South American cold front, As I mentioned before there was considerable un-predictability but we were well aware of the potential options. We looked closely at the options at the corner of Brazil and the movement of the Doldrums to identify when to push north versus making miles west in the strong Guyana current on the North Coast of Brazil. We also invested some time in looking at the pattern of the Bermuda high which has a bearing on how far west to sail in the North Atlantic trades. All of this proved to be valuable information in spite of the fact that the route we took was definitely something of an outlier compared to the historical routing!
B&G: Did you change your plans significantly during the leg based on the actions of your competitors?
SF: This was another leg where we had to mark our competitors quite closely. Although there wasn’t any big splits in the fleet it was quite a tactically challenging leg. It was important to be confident with the sail crossovers to make sure we were always on the fastest sail possible through the trade winds to make the tactical plan pay off. With the fleet fairly tightly grouped it was about making subtle decisions and being on the correct side of the fleet to make the long term plan pay out so the position of our competitors was always a factor in our plans. With several HP ridges to battle through we had to balance the risk of getting closer to the middle of the high for more shift and potentially less miles vs. the safer option of staying in stronger more reliable wind but maybe a little less shift. Getting that balance right was key to getting back to the front of the fleet for us.
Congratulations to SiFi from B&G and good luck to all the teams for Leg 7, Newport to Lisbon