Having made it past the central limit of the ice exclusion zone, which “Telefónica” put behind them along with “Groupama” and “Puma”, the fleet has begun to move down to even lower latitudes on its way to Cape Horn. The safety zone limits are now positioned further South, on a gradual descent, allowing the boats to make their way down to Cape Horn, the cape positioned at latitude 55° 58.738' S.
Easing off the gas and acting sensibly is top on the list of priorities for the Spanish boat right now: “We're in a real minefield right now and anything could happen out here”, said navigator Andrew Cape in a telephone call with the Spanish boat.
“Down here things are still tricky, with more of the same: wind, waves and cold. We are all well, a blow or two, but as happy as we can be: we have to sail slower now because we've got a problem with the boat”, wrote the team's MCM Diego Fructuoso from on board “Telefónica” this morning.
“Telefónica” has slowed down in order to make a few on board repairs: “It's nothing serious, but it could become serious, so we've got to use our heads”, explained the Spaniard in this morning's report: “We have to get to Brazil as soon as possible, but we have to actually get there”, so that's why the crew are working as hard as they can to get back to normality at the earliest possible opportunity: “Pepe has been working non-stop to get the boat back to being as good as new. I'm sure he'll get there shortly and we can get back to full speed”. For now it's a matter of waiting.
According to the latest position report, published at 14:00 UTC, “Telefónica” was pushing forward at an average speed of 16.2 knots with westerly-southwesterly winds of 32.5 knots. Since 01:00 UTC the Spanish boat lead by the double Olympic-medallist Iker Martínez is in third place, astern of “Groupama” and “Puma”, in first and second respectively.
Waiting for the gybe that will shake up play once again
The toughest part is possibly yet to come, with the final approach to Cape Horn in store. Before then there's another important decision to be taken on board: when to gybe to then tack to port on course for the cape?
In the opinion of experienced “Telefónica” navigator Andrew Cape, that gybe will take place soon, shaking up the racing and shifting play onto a different board on this fifth leg of the round the world regatta: “The end of the exclusion zone will see a new change in this game. It'll be a big change, almost like another start. I think that the boats will stay close together until we get there and it will be interesting to see when the ocean will open up for us. We'll carry on as we have been for now and we're pretty happy and won't taking any big risks or go hunting down any extremely strong winds”.
All well on board
Despite the spine-chilling footage that came through from “Telefónica” today, “we've all got a bruise or two and none of us are getting much sleep”, said Cape, but the crew wanted to let everyone know that they are all well: “We've just taken one of the biggest blows I can remember but we're all fine. Ñeti told me to tell you all a few times that we're fine, so that his mother doesn't worry, so: All OK!”, underlined Fructuoso.
Adapting to the boat hasn't proved easy: “Hunger, sleep, tiredness, hot shower... these words run through our minds often”, but as Cape says: “We're still pushing, although we are well aware that there is still a long way to go”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 5
AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND) – ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL): 6,705 miles
Day 8 – 14:00 UTC – 25th March 2012
1. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), 4,029.3 miles from finish
2. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +47.9 miles
3. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +120.4 miles
4. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +298.4 miles
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +935.9 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +2,180 miles
NOTE: “Team Sanya” is heading back to New Zealand for repairs. “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” is on course for Puerto Montt in Chile for boat repairs after suffering damage to the forward bulkhead on friday night.
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