The cards are on the table and the first few miles to Miami (USA) are making it very clear where the preferences of each of the boats in the Volvo Ocean Race lie. Two clear tactical calls are currently dividing the fleet and Spanish boat “Telefónica” continues to defend a position to the East of the fleet, moving away from the Brazilian coast in doing so. This option was also chosen by the French crew on “Groupama” and now, although to a lesser degree by the American boat “Puma”. It is expected to yield results in the mid-term. Meanwhile, on a totally different strategic call to the Spaniards, “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” and “Abu Dhabi” have chosen to hug the Brazilian coastline.
“We're sailing upwind now, with light breeze. We can see “Groupama” astern and “Puma”, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand’ and Abu Dhabi’ are closer to the coast. They opted for faster sailing closer to the coast, which is great at first because you get to where you want to go quickly, but we've preferred to sacrifice those miles now because we think that passing the cape close to the coast could be risky. In less than a day we'll know how one of the first tactical calls of the leg has worked out for everyone”, explained Iker Martínez from aboard “Telefónica”.
For Antonio “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons, the “Telefónica” strategy was clear from the outset, because according to the young Spaniard: “We knew that we had to keep our distance from Cabo Frío and it looks like 'Groupama' had come to the same decision. We think that this is best and we'll have to wait to see if it turns out well for us”.
The typical Brazilian calm
With Rio de Janeiro and Cabo Frío now left behind, the fleet have sailed well into a wind hole and none of the teams are surprised by the difficult weather conditions, as “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons points out: “We started pretty fast, but the wind had also dropped very fast and now we are sailing with very little wind. We know that this is going to be a very warm leg with light breeze, so totally different to the last leg”.
The Spanish skipper also commented in a telephone call from the boat that: “there's not much wind now. We're trapped in a typical Brazilian system and there's not much more than this. We're trying to squeeze what we can out of every gust. We didn't want to get too close to the coast. It was a choice. Now we can see that everyone's been hit by the light airs, so we'll have to see what happens. We have confidence in our position to the East. The boat is going well and everything else on board too. It's a question of wind”.
The 16:00 position report confirmed that the calm had made an impact on the speed of all of the boats and “Telefónica” is sailing at 10 knots at a much more open angle than her rivals. The very light air is blowing in from the south at speeds of between seven and 11 knots.
Over the past 24 hours the Spanish boat has notched up 183 miles, 19 more than the provisional leg leaders, the New Zealanders on “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” and 22 miles more than “Abu Dhabi” in second place provisionally.
Once the fleet emerges from the current wind hole it will be time for them to catch the eagerly awaited trade winds, which will allow a speedy forward journey to the Equator. “When will we get to the trades? Good question! We'll need a couple more days of sailing along the Brazilian coast. We need to make it out of here and then there will be a transitions and easterly winds before we get to what we call the 'trades'. So, we need to keep making north for a few days more”, confirmed Iker early this morning.
Everything in order
With the first 24 hours of ocean sailing under their belts, the sailors' bodies are beginning to get used to life on board the yachts, as Iker Martínez described: “As with all of the first few nights, we're tired. Getting used to the watch pattern of sleeping and sleeping at very different times to on land takes some getting used to. In three or four days' time we'll be a lot more rested”.
There's no doubt “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons is the most excited and enthusiastic about being back on board the boat, especially after having to disembark at Cape Horn with a minor back injury which he came back from during the stay in Itajaí (Brazil). “I'm feeling great and am so pleased to be on board. I'm back on board and racing, which is what I love doing. I'm as good as new”, he said from on board “Telefónica”.
Thankfully it's not only the crew who are fighting fit, but according to the Spanish skipper, “The boat is in great shape, as are the crew. I think that the only loss we've had was a shoe, which one of the crew lost in the chaos of the first few hours. It reminded me of my first leg in the previous Volvo Ocean Race where I lost a shoe when the spinnaker was brought down. When we hoisted it again the shoe fell into the sea. After that I had to use the boots the whole time... So it looks like someone's going to reach Miami with some rather sweaty feet!”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 2 – 16:00 UTC – 24th April 2012
1. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 4,328.7 miles to finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +4.2 miles
3. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +25.7 miles
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +47 miles
5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +51 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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