46º 13.73' S, brushing up against the ice limit zone set up by the race organisers to steer the fleet away from icebergs with S-SW winds that have hit the 45 knot (83.8 km/h) mark for “Telefónica”, with waves averaging 4.5 metres. That has been the situation for the Spanish boat headed up by Iker Martínez over the past 24 hours of racing in the Volvo Ocean Race, with the yacht logging a distance for the run of no less than 510 miles.
The team's MCM Diego Fructuoso went into even more detail in his daily report: “The start at Auckland was tough, but the days ahead until we reach Cape Horn aren't going to be any easier. There are very strong winds, big waves and it's very, very cold. There's water everywhere and inside the boat too, of course, although I'm bailing it out constantly.”
Looking for their spot
During the night “Telefónica” moved into “Groupama”'s wake, now in second place having let the lead slip into the hands of “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” at 19:00 UTC yesterday, the boat in the leading pack positioned furthest north.
The Spanish boat has been consistently applying the pressure with force to Ken Read's “Puma”, the boat furthest South of the four up front, yesterday at 21.1 miles from Iker Martínez and co and today at just two miles away and at the same time. The Basque skipper commented on the situation from on board: “Today is a tricky one. We've got 'Puma' very close to us. We've cut down the gap by a lot, just a short time ago.” The fast pace of the Spanish team meant that at one point during the night the Americans were even behind “Telefónica”, although the guys on “Puma” pushed down hard on the gas and were able to make up the lost ground. This struggle with Read's crew was sure to continue and Martínez warned: “We are going to continue fighting hard, sensibly, but hard.” The Spaniards are now in third position, 13.3 miles ahead of “Puma”.
Early this morning the four frontrunners reached the Western Ice Limit set out by the organisers. This means that hereon the boats mustn't move below 47º South for at least another 1,200 nautical miles. Once they've completed that stretch of the course, with the fleet reaching the central limit, the exclusion zone will move further South from 47º S to 54º 30' South, the point of the Eastern Ice Limit.
“Flying” in the South on deck in survival gear
The average speeds for “Telefónica” for the past 24 hours may have been at 20.6 knots, but at times the on board computer has registered speeds a lot faster, as Fructuoso reveals: “We are sailing very fast. I even saw on Cape's computer that we reached 34.8 knots (65.5 km/h), which really is fast for this kind of boat.”
With the Pacific's southernmost conditions the order of the day, the cold set well in and the water temperature at these high speeds dropping considerably, “Telefónica”'s Spanish MCM told us that: “the survival gear has now made its début in this round the world regatta and almost everyone's got theirs on.”
Avoiding the body coming into direct contact with such low temperatures, both the water and the atmosphere, is key and so it's likely that the bad weather sailing gear will be something of a uniform on board the yacht over the next few days.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 5
AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND) – ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL): 6,705 miles
Day 6 – 16:00 UTC – 23rd March 2012
1. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 4,945.5 miles from finish
2. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +9.1 miles
3. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +31.7 miles
4. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +45 miles
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +479.6 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +865.6 miles
NOTE: Sanya's tracking equipment was damaged during an incident where the boat's rudder snapped, resulting in the yacht taking on water. As such, the tracking information has not been updated since 09:46 on 22nd March. The boat is heading for New Zealand to carry out repairs.
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