Question asked by Jesse:

Can climate change affect the race?


The answer is no and yes. The changes in the climate are slow enough that they don’t really show during any one year, but they will appear over periods of many years and decades. As a result, climate change, as a process, is not going to have a direct and immediate effect on the outcome of the race.

Now, we do know that the global climate has seen changes, over the past 50 years in particular. For example, it seems that the polar westerlies (the strong winds that circle Antarctica) have increased in strength over the past thirty years. This means there will be bigger seas in the Southern Ocean and higher forces pushing on the sails and the rig, making the race tougher than it might have been in the eighties. Perhaps this might give an edge to some boats. 

Overall though, short-term fluctuations in the atmosphere, what we call “changes in the weather”, will be much more important.