It's the eighth day of racing on this leg between South Africa and Abu Dhabi and Iker Martínez and co. on “Telefónica” have reclaimed the top spot in the fleet. The Spaniards regrouped with the New Zealanders on “Camper” and the American boat “Puma” this morning, 1.6 and 4.7 miles respectively from the boat at the 10:00 GMT position report. The entire fleet is heading northeast, with the exception of “Sanya” who had rig trouble when in the lead and is now heading for southern Madagascar.
“We've got through the transition zone at last! We're sailing with Northeasterly breeze and we hope to be doing so for a while,” wrote Spaniard Diego Fructuoso from on board the yacht early this morning. The Spanish boat “Telefónica” had climbed to fourth place in the 10:00 GMT position report and at 13:00 GMT they'd moved up to third, and by 16:00 GMT the boat was back leading the Volvo Ocean Race fleet.
Last night the crew finally got to sail with some more or less stable breeze, which Watch Captain Neal McDonald was very grateful for: “We've had a couple of nights with some breeze here and there, but this has been the most steady breeze we've had over any extended period of time. We've got water on deck again, but at least we're moving. We are happy, but if we push hard and gain a few miles more we'd be even happier...,” admitted the experienced round the world sailor.
The “Telefónica” guys really have managed to get a move on. The boat skippered by Iker Martínez is the fastest in the fleet according to the latest data, notching up 18.8 knot averages, a figure which Franck Cammas' French crew has almost got up to on their southern bid. The numbers taking Martínez and crew to the front of the fleet are: 334 miles in 24 hours at average speeds of 13.9 knots.
Rivals in view
Iker Martínez and his crew are sailing very close to Chris Nicholson and Ken Read's guys, with their rivals even in eyeshot, the case for the former. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand is sailing parallel to the Spanish boat with a lateral distance of just four miles, whilst “Puma” is 47 miles further across.
It's been something that most of the crew have highlighted today, including Pablo Arrarte, Joca Signorini, Neal McDonald and Diego Fructuoso. The team's MCM said that having a rival so nearby spurs the team on even more: “After a night of good sailing, dawn broke and we laid eyes on two of our rivals: the Team New Zealand guys and Puma. It's always exciting to actually see the competition.”
Further behind, some 109 miles astern of “Telefónica” and following in her wake almost, is “Abu Dhabi”. Further southeast and 45.7 miles from the Spaniards is a speedy “Groupama”.
They may not have shed their rubber boots yet, but the appearance of some sunshine is always a boost and cheers everyone up. As well as raising the mood, there's also the added advantage of being able to dry clothes. Xabi Fernández had something to say about that: “We are like snails; the sun's come out and everyone's got their gear out on deck to dry... Well, not just out clothes, but ourselves too. After a week under the rain wrapped up in wet weather gear this is a welcome change.”
These conditions are expected to remain unchanged for a few days, that means some relief for the crew and the opportunity to recharge batteries ahead of the ever-complex passage across the Equator. Although maybe that's another story altogether... As Pablo Arrarte says, “Now we've got to push.”
Congratulations to the Spanish Olympic sailing qualifying team
The guys on “Telefónica” also wanted to take the opportunity today to congratulate the Olympic qualifying team which has just finished the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth (Australia). Xabi Fernández was in charge of delivering the message on behalf of the whole team: “They've returned with two medals; gold for Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos in the 470 Women's and bronze for Marina Alabau in the RS:X Women's. We've followed them as much as we could with emails and results coming through every day that we'd look at and comment on.”
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 2
CAPE TOWN (SOUTH AFRICA) – ABU DHABI (UAE): 5,430 miles
Day 8 – 16:00 GMT – 19th December 2011
1 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez).
2 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +2.7 miles
3 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +5.3 miles
4 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +23.6 miles
5 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +45.7 miles
6 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +109.3 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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