Spanish yacht “Telefónica” continues to gain East-Northeast on the fifth day of competition, despite the fact that the final destination on this fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race is Auckland, New Zealand. “With the low pressure at Japan everyone has chosen to go North, moving away from the line that might be seen as the optimum route. We're waiting for the trades to come in again, which could mean sailing another 1,000 miles East. It's the best way to get to New Zealand”, explained navigator Andrew Cape in a telephone conversation today.
It looks like the stronger trade winds that the fleet are eager to catch will move in from the North, which is why the crew headed up by Iker Martínez has decided to go for this option in an attempt to become one of the first boats to get up to high speeds.
“Here we are... on course for Japan instead of Auckland. Cape says we've got a couple more days left of this! The weather side of thing is certainly a bit peculiar, but anyway...”, said Diego Fructuoso from on board “Telefónica” today. The Spanish crew had a difficult night, as the team's MCM explains: “We had another intense night with a lot of breeze and a lot of problems with getting any sleep”. The Spaniard reminded everyone that fortunately the “boat is performing increasingly well, although sometimes a lull or a squall come along which unsettle us”.
Navigator Andrew Cape confirmed that during the night “there wasn't too much cloud. It's one of those things that happens, that we get a good angle and we stick with it for a while. It's exactly what the others did to us before, just one of those things. Along this big ridge, a line that's marked out by a big cloud, you can find yourself pushed along out of the blue from time to time. We had that the other night”, but there's still a lot to be decided further ahead: “I don't know what will happen tonight. I think that there's a possibility that everything could change tonight”, confirmed the Australian.
Two groups, one destination
The fleet has split into two and while the majority of the fleet is sailing at the height of Taiwan, the risky strategy being played out by “Puma” had lead the Americans to sweep past the Pacific island. In the main pack, “Telefónica” is furthest North and according to the 16:00 UTC position report the boat is sailing at a speed of 12 knots on an easterly course. The most important thing now is for the crew to squeeze the best performance from the boat, as her navigator pointed out: “There's still so much to be decided, but simply what we've got to do is make the most of what we've got right now”.
For Fructuoso the current situation is more 'normal' than the experience of the past few days and looking at the forecasts the Spanish crew are hoping to see daily improvements. Fructuoso had no qualms about stating: “I think that we can catch up with them”.
A tricky leg
This leg is certainly not proving straightforward for the navigators and neither is it for Andrew Cape who said: “There's no doubt that it's difficult with lots of obstacles on the way and the forecasts haven't been playing out as expected. It's interesting, with lots happening all of the time and there's still so much to happen over the coming days”.
An early birthday
The 3rd of March was set to be a special day on board “Telefónica” with one of the crew, Zane Gills celebrating his birthday. However, the surprise in store had to be revealed ahead of time because “something had exploded in the bag that his girlfriend gave me so I thought it'd be better if he looked at it to see what he wanted to keep and threw away the rest... so there'll be no surprise for him on the 3rd. Anyway, we'll put aside Pablo and Xabi's chocolate mousse for him and sing him happy birthday”, said Fructuoso.
The mood on board “Telefónica” is still good, despite the difficulties the Spanish yacht is encountering in the search for some stable breeze in the Pacific. “Life on board is going well. We are much more used to it now and we are happier”, concluded the “Telefónica” MCM.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 4
SANYA (CHINA) – AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND): 5,220 miles
Day 5 – 16:00 UTC – 24th February 2011
1 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson) 4,624.6 miles from finish
2 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +13 miles
3 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +44.8 miles
4 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +47.1 miles
5 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +69.3 miles
6 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +264.1 miles
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