The Luzon Strait is currently less than 50 miles ahead of “Telefónica”'s bow and everything is indicating that along with the rest of the fleet, the Spanish boat will make it's way into open seas by crossing through the Luzon Strait whilst hugging the Taiwanese coastline. Whilst defending a northerly position, “Telefónica” has logged some good data, and is positioned as one of the the fastest in the fleet, making life on board rocky to say the least!
The approach to the Luzon Strait is not proving easy for any of the boats and the manoeuvres are non-stop. So much so that late yesterday afternoon the fleet had no other choice than to perform a tack all at the same time to deal with an unexpected shift in the breeze. As Diego Fructuoso, the team's MCM pointed out in today's report from on board: “Cape says that the met models aren't on target and anything could happen”. What's more, the Spaniard added: “the shift didn't come in from the left, as we had expected it to, but it came from much further to the right” which is testament to the unstable weather “Telefónica” is grappling with. Antonio Cuervas-Mons “Ñeti” had said that he thought that last night would be “one of tacks”.
However, the Spanish team is keeping up a good pace after getting back to defending the North. According to the 16:17 UTC position report the boat lead by Iker Martínez is one of the fastest in the fleet thanks to southeasterly breeze at an average speed of 10 knots with gusts of 20.
One thing is for sure, the pace is exhausting and on board “Telefónica” there's no time for rest. “We had a pretty tough night because we had to tack many times and to carry out a few sail changes so the crew are tired. If anyone's out on deck and not doing anything at time they are surely grabbing a bit of rest when they can”, said Fructuoso.
According to the latest weather reports in, the situation is set to take a radical turn and the breeze in the Strait will drop considerably. Should this change materialise the 'accordion' affect could bunch the fleet back together.
The Spanish sense of humour remains intact on board, despite the tough nature of these first three days of racing on this leg. This time Diego Fructuoso explained that he'd at last been able to understand a new item of language as used by Neal McDonald: banging.
It seems that the Spanish crew have incorporated 'banging' into their on board lingo, which was a term used by Neal McDonald to describe the waves, which at 2 metres high right now literally 'bang' against the bow of the racing yacht making a big 'bang!' sound as they do. “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons commented that “suddenly these huge waves come along and we slam up against them. Life on board is pretty tough, but anyway, it looks like soon we should be catching the trades and heading South, which is what we all want to do”.
Jordi Calafat referred to the South China Sea as a 'boatbreaker' and as the Mallorcan sailor says: “We have to keep shooting forward. We need to get to New Zealand as soon as we can. What we've got here is a lot of current and it's like being shaken around in a washing machine”.
With another dash of humour Fructuoso concluded that with the difficult situation they're in, all they've got “is to hope that the “Telefónica” lucky charms keep bringing us good luck, and if we can hope for something else... that the 'banging' stops”.
PROVISIONAL RANKING LEG 4
SANYA (CHINA) – AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND): 5,220 miles
Day 3 – 16:17 UTC – 22nd February 2012
1 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 4,699 miles from finish
2 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +6.1 miles
3 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +16.6 miles
4 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +16.9 miles
5 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +18.1 miles
6 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +24.6 miles
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