The first few hours of the route to Miami (USA) have already thrown up a few surprises, with the fleet breaking off into three clearly defined groups. Spanish boat “Telefónica” with Iker Martínez chose to defend from the south of the fleet, moving away from the Brazilian coast and continuing to gain east to get past a transition zone before reaching the trade winds. France's “Groupama” joined “Telefónica” in their strategic bid.
During the night the Spanish boat was at the front of the fleet along with Ken Read and co. On an easterly course and with rivals in sight “Puma” was the first to step out of the single file, whilst “Abu Dhabi” and “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” were positioned to the middle of the fleet along with “Telefónica” and “Groupama” defending the south. Slowly but surely the fan closed right up and early this morning dawn broke with the fleet split up into two clearly defined groups. The latest position report confirmed that the American boat had done away with their northern bid to move back down into the middle of the fleet to keep a close eye on the rest. Meanwhile “Telefónica” was leading the southern bid, the furthest away from the Brazilian coast.
At 13:00 UTC it looked like the Spanish boat was still defending her position in the fleet on a sightly more open course than her rivals, sailing at average boat speeds of 11 knots thanks to 11 to 16 knot southeasterly winds. Over the past 16 hours the Spanish boat has notched up averages of more than 16 knots, the fastest in the fleet over four position reports of the nine published so far.
The distances between the leader and the boat at the back of the fleet stands at just 11 miles. “All of the boats are very close to one another right now” said Diego Fructuoso from on board and went on to explain the conditions “Telefónica” are sailing with right now: “The first two days of the leg can be very important because if you come unstuck here it's tough to catch up further ahead. We're reaching with 15 knot winds and we've got the big genoa and the mainsail completely open. The swell isn't that bad so we're picking up some good speed”.
Back to 'normality'
After fifteen days on shore, the crew now has to adapt their bodies to another ocean-going leg, which makes these first few days a bit tricky to handle, as Fructuoso mentioned in his daily report: “The first day of the leg is always a bit strange because you feel like you'll be going back to port for a shower or to sleep and you don't quite realise that you've got a good stretch ahead of not being able to do those 'normal' things. You get headaches at first too, but all of that disappears after a while”.
So, little by little the “Telefónica” guys are easing back into the routine, although the objective remains the same: “After such an eventful previous leg, we hope that this one is better for everyone and that we can take another win”, concluded Fructuoso from on board the boat.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 1 – 13:00 UTC – 23rd April 2012
1. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +4,503.97 miles from finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +0.4 miles
3. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +1 miles
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +8 miles
5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +10,5 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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