18 March 2015

Spanish lead fleet out of New Zealand

After being delayed for three days by Cyclone Pam, MAPFRE lead the closely packed fleet out of New Zealand today.

This Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race will be toughest of the race which is not expected to be concluded until around 7 April in Itajai, in south-east Brazil.

However, the Spanish crew continued where they left off after winning Leg 4 from Sanya, China, to Auckland, leading the six boats up the eastern coast of New Zealand's north island towards East Cape.

On this leg of the race, the six boats will be assisting in an important environmental project to provide vital data from the Southern Ocean.

They will be involved in helping the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to collect ocean and weather data to provide mariners with accurate forecasts of seas, as well as coastal forecasts and regional climate predictions. Such partnerships are critical to maintaining a network of free-floating buoys, known as drifters, and NOAA have asked the Volvo Ocean Race fleet to assist them with tis.

All six teams will each deploy a drifter as this is a region oceanographers don't get to visit regularly. Each team will deploy their drifter at the same predetermined coordinates. As soon as they are in the water, they will drift with ocean surface currents and transmit data on surface pressure and ocean currents through a global satellite network.

Anyone can access the drifter data at http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/dac.