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Normal heroes always go the other way.

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This joke from a strictly children's film has been carrying a grain of truth more and more often lately. At least as far as sailing is concerned. At least in its oceanic variety.

What is it about? It's about the victory of «iron franc» - the french yachtsman Franca Camma and his crew on the yacht Groupama 4 in the fourth leg of the race. Volvo Race. «The event was a very challenging one - after starting in China, the yachts had to» cross the Pacific Ocean along the diagonal, pass through the navigationally complex Solomon Islands archipelago (the rules of the race did not prescribe where and how to cross the archipelago) and finish in Auckland, New Zealand. Another particular difficulty of the regatta was that most of the way - according to the forecasts - the yachts had to pass on sharp courses or even in tacking. This made the requirements to both tacticians who were choosing the route and the crew - they had to work harder.

Approximately to the traverse of Taiwan the yachts were sailing in tight group - the route was «tram», in fact there was not much choice of the route. Passing Taiwan the boats came into anticyclone zone, that as usual whirled its shabby eddies clockwise, so whether you like or not, the yachts had to submit to the wind: they went to the north-east, actually at right angle to the general course, because to maneuver through the doldrums would have been madness.

» Here «especially distinguished the Americans at Pumathe Americans nearly pointed the boat directly to the north, apparently in the hope of catching the strong tailwind from the Yellow Sea. But their hopes were disappointed - before they got this tailwind, the Americans got stuck in the doldrums (as they often are on the boarder of two wind systems). The old rule of never leaving the main group of yachts in calm weather was confirmed once again. «This is not the way to do it. Do you know what "no way" means? It means it's not desirable, it's not approved, it means it's not allowed. You don't know what you can do, but what you can'tdo»," said an old man, and he was right.

The squad, on the other hand, did not notice the loss of a fighter, as one is supposed to do in such cases, continuing to move eastward. In these conditions, the leader was the team Groupama 4, which was able to maintain the right balance between a relatively short route, but in the weak winds of the center of the anticyclone, and a longer, but with fresh winds. The Americans, who chose the longer route, fell behind and the rest of the group of yachts, which went closer to the center of the cyclone, simply lost the course.
In fact, the race was made at this very moment - on the night of February 26 to 27, although no one, of course, was aware of this yet. However, it was here that the great experience of Frank Camm's team, trained for the ability to find the best balance between speed and covered distance, going literally on the edge of the winds, showed itself. Let me remind the readers that this experience was accumulated in conditions of numerous record passages - the crew of «Big Greenalone made three attempts of circumnavigation of the world record»!
Further it was a matter of skill not to let the competitors to go ahead: they know how to develop high speed on board of Groupama 4 - all their life they are doing it, so to say. The yachts divided into two groups - two went for Gruppama having understood who now surrenders trumps, Telefonica, Camper and Sanya stood in opposition and tried to make a shorter route through the archipelago. However, they didn't have luck and on the way out they found themselves in a wind change and had to make a counter-gauging, the gained miles melted away again. In these conditions, the Groupama 4 crew took a longer detour around the archipelago from the east and made it to Auckland, finishing at 22.35 GMT on March 9, when they caught the cyclonic winds near New Zealand.

At the time of writing the rest of the yachts were still at sea. Among them, Puma (8 miles to the finish line) led the way with Telefonica trailing nine miles behind, trailing two miles behind Camper. Abu Dhabi and Sanya were 20 and 30 miles behind the leader, respectively. If Puma didn't let the Spanish title holders slip by, Groupama 4 would move up to second place in the Overall standings, closing the gap to Telefonica by 10 points.


With five ocean stages and six port races still to go, the race is only halfway through and it looks like things are finally starting to get interesting.

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