Following the in-port race at Itajaí, where Team Telefónica fell back into fifth place, despite having lead the fleet from the first to the fourth mark, today is the time for the sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race to kick off: 4,800 miles between the Brazilian city and Miami, USA.
The in-shore race began well for “Telefónica”, the only boat to choose the left side of the course at the start, whilst the other four entries got stuck in on the right hand side. Out alone, the Spanish boat went in search of its own route to the first mark, rounding it in the lead. In front at the first buoy, the crew headed up by Iker Martínez continued to push away from the fleet.
At the fourth mark, “Groupama” was in second place and “Telefónica” was holding first. Iker explains what happened: “We made a big mistake, one that you just can't afford to make. This is a course that is raced between buoys and there's a lot of twisting and turning. We began downwind and went upwind, sailing a good race up until then. After that we reached for two legs. As we came back, there were two buoys very close to one another, one of them white and the other red, which shouldn't have posed a problem, but in the heat of the manoeuvring I lost focus for a moment and we took the wrong mark. I honestly don't think that this has ever happened to me and this is the first time in my life that something like this happens and I hope it's the last..
“I'm not at all happy about the result, but I think that if we look at the positive, we really have improved a lot,” added Martínez.
From that point, the lead went to the French boat, which took a win in the in-port race with a 48 second lead over “Camper” and one minute and five seconds on “Puma” in third.
“Telefónica” continues to lead in the overall regatta standings with a 16 point lead on Franck Cammas' crew and 25 more points than Ken Read.
The sixth leg kicks off today
4,800 miles lie ahead, from Itjaí (South Brazil) to Miaimi, USA. The course for leg six of the regatta sets off from the Brazilian city and will take the boats up to the Northern Hemisphere, crossing the Equator yet again.
16 days after reaching Itajaí, “Telefónica” will set course for Miami, on a leg that won't be easy, despite the fact that the boats have now put the Southern Ocean behind them. “I think that this is a much more complex leg than people think. It'll take us 15 to 17 days, which is not short.” At least it will be warm.
Most of the crew agree that the first few miles will be key. “I think that the play for this leg will be made between here and the Equator”, said trimmer Xabi Fernández. From Itajaí the boats will round Cabo Frío, in the state of Rio de Janeiro and from there, the Equator. The Basque trimmer thinks that this stretch of the race will give a lot for the boats to play with: “There will be tropical storms, light airs at night and more breeze during the day... I think that's where the key to this lies, in seeing how you make it to the Equator. The Doldrums, where there is no wind, is likely to be a thinner strip this time because we are further west.”
Once they are past the Equator, it will be the time for the Northerly Trades to make an appearance, which the fleet may reach fairly quickly. “Once we are there, we can get away and we're likely to see something of a horse race over 2,000 miles or so. After that, it'll be downwind to Miami. Number one priority is that no-one pushes away until Cabo Frío and then we can make the most of this boat's features to aim for a good position,” says Jordi Calafat, helmsman and sail programme coordinator on the Spanish yacht.
Leg 6 starts today at 17:00 UTC.
IKER MARTÍNEZ, skipper.
I am not at all happy about today's result, but if there's something positive to be taken from this, it's that we've improved a lot. We've been training hard for three days and we've really improved on our manoeuvring between marks. With a view to the future, that is important and instead of resting, we spent a lot of time on that.
That's what comes with the responsibility of heading up the boat: you do well and you're a hero, even if you're not and if you don't do well you look like a fool.
It's tricky to say exactly where the key to this leg will be. There's no doubt that we have to be very careful at the beginning and not get stuck behind and we have to get to Cabo Frío first and then climb to the Equator... Along the whole stretch to Fortaleza you can drop lots of miles if you're not careful because it's a very unstable zone. After that it is likely that the breeze will be more stable and we'll be fighting mile for mile and it's very likely that the boats in the running for the top spot will be bunched together for about 3,000 miles with some consistent trades. Our plan is to try not to drop miles early on and to try to stay near the front, up with the frontrunners.
XABI FERNÁNDEZ, trimmer.
We've done five out of nine legs so far, so there are only four left and we are in the lead with a 16 point advantage, so obviously we can see we're doing well. The only thing I'll say is that in the last leg with our boat and across lots of the teams, we saw that things can get really tricky very quickly, so you mustn't take anything for granted and you must continue sailing good legs. If the next leg goes well for us, then everything would really begin to take shape, but we have to take care and not make any serious mistakes and above all not run into any trouble with the boat to continue to notch up points.
ÑETI CUERVAS-MONS. Proa.
(On the recovery from his injury)
I've spent the last two weeks with Yiyo, Pablo and Ramón doing double daily sessions, morning and afternoon also with physio sessions. The entire medical team is really happy with my recovery, so I'll be one hundred per cent for the in-port and the leg. On that front I'm really happy
Finally we're on a leg that's warm, which after the Southern Ocean is much needed. At this stage it looks like there will be a lot of reaching on this leg, then there is the Equator, which is always tricky, with showers and lulls. As we get closer to the Caribbean we won't be getting much downwind sailing. It's likely to be a leg with light airs which will last about two weeks. So, we'll have to keep the boat light and expect anything to happen.
PEPE RIBES, boat captain
The sixth leg has been a classic leg over the past three editions of the Volvo Ocean Race and it normally kicks off upwind to Cabo Frío, which is the most easterly point in Brazil with the particularity that if you're close to shore there are warm currents and if you're further away there are still the dregs of the current coming in from Cape Horn.
It's differentiated by three stretches: the first, as I said before, up to Cabo Frío, which is normally upwind or at least with on a fairly closed angle; the second part would be taking the Trades to the Equator and moving out of there with wind on the beam with the squally conditions often found at the Equator. Here the race will be in a fairly straight line and it will be difficult to get past anyone; the last stretch is moving into the Caribbean Sea where the wind will begin to open up and where we'll start sailing downwind. The only obligatory waypoint is putting the Bahamas to port opposite Miami, right at the end of the course. As such, there will be a lot of options there like whether to go into the Caribbean Sea and sail downwind, or whether to stay further out to look for a trade wind.
JORDI CALAFAT, helmsman and sail programme coordinator
We're in the lead, not with too many points to spare, but we're in first place. I think everyone would like like be where we are now. It doesn't mean we'll be in first or second place yet, but for now we have a small cushion which means we can make certain mistakes, which other teams wouldn't be able to allow, although it's no Volvo Ocean Race guarantee.
FINAL RESULTS Itajaí in-port race (Brazil)
1. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas). 46m 27s. 6 points
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson). +0:48. 5 points.
3. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read). +1:05. 4 points.
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker). +1:33. 3 points.
5. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez). +5:40. 2 points.
Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNC. 0 points.
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 149 points
2. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), 133 points
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 124 points
4. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 117 points
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 58 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 25 points
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