36 hours ago “Telefónica” took a change in strategy and instead of pushing north in an attempt to get through the “black hole” stopping them from gaining east, the boat set a southeasterly course to put them almost 30 miles astern of New Zealand's entry “Camper” and American boat “Puma”, with “Abu Dhabi” joining in the chase. According to the 13:00 GMT position report, the Spanish boat has managed to recover following the change in strategy and is now in the same position as the American and Kiwi rivals. Excellent work from the Spanish boat's crew led by Iker Martínez which may even allow them to aspire to a podium finish on this difficult and uncertain leg.
The boat's average speeds over the past 24 hours have been very good, especially considering the light airs. The Spaniards have managed to cover 287 miles, 50 more than the New Zealanders and 36 more than the Americans. The top spot is occupied by the Chinese boat thanks to a more direct course north, for now the boat has managed to break away to an 80-mile lead over the other entries in the fleet.
Uncertain but crucial hours
The coming hours will clearly define the three different strategies taken by the fleet. The risky northern option taken by Chinese entry “Sanya” will mean that shortly they have to face strong winds provoked by a tropical storm forming off the southeast coast of Madagascar.
The most conservative option is the mid-way routing, where “Telefónica” arrived late yesterday. The Spanish boat, American entry “Puma”, Kiwi entry “Camper” and Arab boat “Abu Dhabi” will try to make sure that “Groupama”, on the third strategical option of the leg, doesn't get away from the South towards the finishing point for the first stretch of the second leg, situated in the northeast of the Indian Ocean, still some 3,000 miles away.
Northerly breeze at last!
It may still be light, but three of the entries are now sailing with the northerlies, or rather more precisely – the northeasterly breeze. "Telefónica", "Puma" and "Camper" are now enjoying the breeze that “Groupama”'s been getting since yesterday and have set course northeast. Both the angle and force of the breeze is set to vary over the next few hours and should mean higher speeds on the climb to the northeast of the Indian Ocean.
Pepe Ribes sees the new panorama in a very positive light indeed, as the sailor from Benissa in Spain explains: “It looks like we've finally got through the transition. We've got breeze from the other side now. It really is a big relief to scratch back the 70 miles “Puma” and “Camper” had on us. We are back racing again. From hereon we'll be fighting for every mile we can get”.
Despite the difficult times sometimes experienced on board “Telefónica”, team spirit is still at a peak. To prove it, Diego's blog today: “If you see a jacket with 'Diego' on it in the manoeuvre pics or videos, don't worry, it's not me, it's Zane. I had to lend him my jacket as he gave his to Ñeti. Conclusion: I no longer have a jacket. It doesn't matter really, they need them more than me”, reported Diego Fructuoso today.
Football, whales and… sunshine!
Life might be challenging on board the Spanish boat, but it's important to still enjoy the good times. As expected, the World Club Cup final has given the guys on “Telefónica” a lot to talk about and there's been a fair bit of discussion about the final between F.C. Barcelona and Brazilian team Santos F.C. On board there are two clearly defined camps which have both enjoyed a bit of football banter ahead of the match.
Diego Fructuoso hit on one of the most exciting moments on board the boat over the past two months of round the world racing today: “We saw a whale! I was inside the boat and the guys on watch (Pablo, Ñeti, Xabi and Joca) called me outside. I was a bit alarmed because they wouldn't stop shouting. I got out on deck and I saw it, even though it was a bit far away. They told me it had come up to right beside us. I couldn't take a photo because it was dark, but it was beautiful. Later Joca told me that once he was on a boat that was involved in a collision with a whale and he broke three ribs. You've got to be careful!”
After days of sailing through fog the Spanish team were lucky enough to catch a few rays today when the sun made an appearance, much to the delight of Antonio Cuervas-Mons “Neti”: “The sun's come out at last!”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 2
CAPE TOWN (SOUTH AFRICA) – ABU DHABI (UAE): 5,430 miles
Day 7 – 13:00 GMT – 18th December 2011
1 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson)
2 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +117.1 miles
3 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +118.7 miles
4 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), ), +119.7 miles
5 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +131.4 miles
6 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +163.5 miles
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 37 points
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 34 points
3. Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), 24 points
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 9 points
5. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 9 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 4 points
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