"We had a difficult start with not very much breeze. We had all of our big sails up, including the Code Zero. Right now there are three yachts to the South (Abu Dhabi, Sanya and Groupama). The other three, including ourselves, are to the North. We've got Iker driving, Neal McDonald is trimming the main and Xabi is trimming the Code Zero”. Those were the first words from Media Crew Member Diego Fructuoso from on board “Telefónica” roughly an hour after setting out from Malé, the Maldive capital today on the second and final stage of the third leg in the Volvo Ocean Race.
There are over 3,000 nautical miles ahead for the yacht skippered by double-Olympic medallist Iker Martínez, with racing kicking off at 08:00 UTC (13:00 local time) with only light breeze this morning. Ten minutes before the starting gun was fired, just five knots were blowing, which picked up to seven at the point where the entire fleet finally set sail for Sanya, in South China.
The starting line was unusual, marked out by two flags: one on shore, where Racing Director Jack Lloyd could also be found, and the other flag was positioned at a radio tower. “Telefónica” started on the leeward side, although in the end more wind could be found to the windward side of the course, with ESP-1 slowly gaining windward to catch that better breeze. After that it was a full close-haul with the Code Zero up.
Three hours into racing, at 11:00 UTC the fleet was already up close, with less than a mile and a half between them all and all of the boats sailing averages of 11 knots on a course between 105º and 11º (E-SE).
On this first part of the leg, which Andrew Cape has described as the first 1,300 miles to Indonesia, the Spanish entry is opting to stay further North than the rest of the fleet for now, as is Ken Read's American yacht. Constant showers, counter-currents and light to medium breeze on a close-haul will dominate over this section of the leg, of which the “Telefónica” navigator has said “the fastest boat will win.”
With over 3,000 miles ahead and 80% of the total points for the leg in play (the winner will take 24 points), the fleet could reach their destination point on or around the 6th of February.
IKER MARTÍNEZ. Skipper.
This is a long leg and it's likely that we'll be doing a lot of close-hauling with light-medium winds, which means conditions we haven't yet had, so we'll have to see how the boats handle them. It's difficult to pick a favourite at this early stage, and I really think that in these conditions the boats will be more even than ever so we'll have to see how the leg develops and how things go.
We are really looking forward to getting out there and racing and to sailing this stage of the leg, with 80% of the points in play. With the boats so close together points-wise, especially “Camper” and “Groupama” this could be a critical leg and there may be some changes in the overall standings.
PABLO ARRARTE. Helmsman.
We are really looking forward to starting the leg and to getting to China having done all we can to win. Of course we are in the best position we could be in, but there is still so much racing ahead and we can't let our eye off the ball at all. We need to keep working hard to keep the gaps up and to do as well as we can the whole time.
At first, above all during the first three-quarters of the leg, only light but very shifty breeze is expected and it's going to come at us from every angle. We going to go up against big counter-currents so we'll have to work very hard and Iker and Capey will have to keep a close eye on where we go. On the final stretch we may get some very very tough close-hauling with lots of breeze, lots of swell and we'll be getting a bit of everything.
ANDREW CAPE. Navigator.
For me the race has four parts:
1) 1,300 nm to Indonesia. Light/med upwind-tight reach with squalls and current against. Fastest boat wins.
2) 600 nm Malacca Strait, wind goes light in transition from NE to NW. Many obstacles such as shipping, fishing boats and nets, islands, shallows, bandits...
3) 50 nm Singapore Straight. Biggest problem is danger from huge volume of shipping and has strong currents and bandits.
4) 1,100 nm China Sea to Sanya Finish. Upwind in NW to NE wind that could get strong of Vietnam. When to tack? Strong adverse currents of Vietnam coast.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS STAGE 2 – LEG 3
Day 1 – 11:02 UTC – 22nd January 2012
1. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 2,971.4 miles from finish
2 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +0.3 miles from leader
3 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +0.5 miles
4 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +0.6 miles
5 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +1 mile
6 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +1.3 miles
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 71 points
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 64 points
3. Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), 51 points
4. Puma powered by BERG (Ken Read), 36 points
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 31 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 11 points
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