At 13:00 GMT today, exactly when the tenth day of non-stop competition was commencing in the Volvo Ocean Race, the Spanish entry “Telefónica” moved back into the top spot to become the new race leaders in the fleet.
The crew led by double Olympic medallist Iker Martínez has rounded off a battle with “Puma” successfully, following a particularly intense last 24 hours: from the 16 mile gap at 13:00 GMT yesterday between the Americans and “Telefónica” to the 7.2 miles in the early hours of this morning, to the 2.7 miles between the two at the 10:00 GMT position report, and finally the one mile advantage that the Spanish now hold against the team that has once again become their closest rival.
Right now the entire fleet is sailing towards the South, almost in parallel. “Telefónica” continues to be the fastest in the fleet and the only boat notching up speeds of above 21 knots. The Spanish yacht is the furthest East in the fleet and along with “Puma” and “Camper Emirates Team New Zealand” she has also put the Cape Verde archipelago behind her.
That's where French entry “Groupama” is sailing, with the African bid having cost the entry some 300 miles already. The French boat chose to pass the islands to the East, sticking fairly close to them.
Up ahead: the lulls at the Equator
On board “Telefónica” the crew are now focussed on the evolution of the Doldrums. The Spanish entry continues to move closer to the Equator and that means at the same time that they are moving ever closer to the Doldrums... the lulls hanging around at the Equator.
It looks very much like the Spanish boat will get there in a day. “For now they are looking fairly calm, and we hope they stay like that and that when we get there we will be able to get through them quickly,” said Iker Martínez, who also added in a written report from on board that “it looks like 'Groupama' will have a difficult time of getting out from where she is. It's likely the boat will drop a fair few miles, so for now our closest competition at the Doldrums will be 'Camper Team New Zealand' and 'Puma'.”
Despite the morale boost from regaining the lead, there's no forgetting that this is just one of numerous battles that will be fought along the remaining 4,150 miles until Cape Town (South Africa). However, Martínez and his guys are enjoying it.
“We are really happy because things seem to be going well,” said Iker from on board, who, inspiring calm, remembered that: “This is a race of endurance. We've been preparing for this for many months and the in-port race results got us a bit angry, but now we are happy and things are going smoothly on board and we are starting to tune in to what the boat likes best, what sails work better with each course and how to make each change more efficient.”
Being at about 520 nautical miles from 0 Latitude has its upsides. Diego Fructuoso hit on them this morning in an email from on board “Telefónica”: “Most of the crew have decided to 'park up' their boots for now in favour of lighter footwear. I also changed my top today, as I've had it on since Alicante... the same thermal top has now given way to a light T shirt.”
With less water washing across the deck, the crew has also taken the opportunity to ventilate the inside of the yacht in which 11 people are living together in confined quarters, as far as possible.
Following days of rain and cold temperatures, the heat is a welcome change. However, as always, everything is better in moderation... We'll have to wait and see what temperatures the boat gets up to at the Equator...
Listen HERE the audio with navigator Andrew Cape after knowing that “Telefónica” has taken the lead again.
Listen HERE this morning’s audio with Watch Captain Joca Signorini.
Click this LINK to see the latest images from Team Telefónica.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 1
ALICANTE (SPAIN) – CAPE TOWN (SOUTH AFRICA): 6,500 miles
Day 10 – 16:00 GMT – 14th November 2011
1st Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 4,141.3 miles from finish
2nd Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), + 1 mile
3rd Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), + 160.6 miles
4th Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), + 339.6 miles
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), retired from Leg 1
Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), retired from Leg 1
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