It's been a complicated night for the fleet, with the transition zone slowing the six boats racing down to unexpected low speeds. The crew on Spanish boat “Telefónica” have been working very hard indeed to get through the new calm and are now thinking ahead about when to point north, which will be a key move over the next few days according to skipper Iker Martínez.
The trade winds are playing hard to get with the fleet, although it looks like the fleet should hit them during Thursday 26th April. Last night, along with the rest of the fleet, “Telefónica” had to grapple with a weather wall that forced the boat to slow drastically down, notching up speeds of under three knots in the early hours of this morning. For Joca Signorini, watch leader, the situation on “Telefónica” is similar to what the rest of the fleet are getting “the winds are very light, but I think that is the case for all of us and we are waiting for some wind to come in.”
Diego Fructuoso revealed that “we may have to do a couple of tacks in the next few hours, which could be very important too”. The Spaniard was on target with that prediction and during the night work aboard the Spanish boat was focussed on one thing: getting the maximum performance level out of the light winds blowing in the South Atlantic due to low pressure affecting the entire Brazilian coast.
Getting to the trades won't necessarily mean a relief for the fleet, as the Spanish team's skipper Iker Martínez pointed out: “Being the first boat to get to the trades normally gives you a big advantage, but that also depends on the stability and strength of the winds... We'll see.”
Tacks have been the order of the day over the past 24 hours. According to the 10:00 UTC position report “Telefónica” was the fastest boat in the fleet, logging average boat speeds of 11.5 knots, squeezing the best possible performance from 10 knots of northeasterly breeze. This data has seen the Spanish boat scrape six miles closer to the frontrunners, whilst also pushing the gap between them and French boat “Groupama” to over 30 miles. Meanwhile the entire fleet has also pushed past another landmark distance, with now under 4,000 miles to go to the leg finish.
When to point north?
With the bow pointing northeast, the key now is when to begin gaining north, as Iker Martínez explained in a telephone call today: “We're sailing upwind with eight to ten know winds. The seas are fleet and we've got some really good conditions for sailing. Tactically the situation is tricky, but it's very interesting: we are more or less pointing north but we're expecting a big shift when the wind moves to the east. Everyone wants to be windward, to be east, but that doesn't get you any closer to the finishing line. So it's not easy, because you want to go north but at the same rime you want to be the boat furthest windward, in the east. Choosing the right moment to go north will be the key over the next few days.”
On course north, but the bow is pointing slightly east and on board “Telefónica” the heat is setting in and the crew are well aware that in this respect things are likely to get even tougher, as Diego Fructuoso pointed out in his daily report from the boat: “It's still hot, although it's not extreme yet. It's still not absolutely necessary to use a fan to sleep, which is appreciated, especially by me as I spend the most time below deck.”
“Sometimes we complain about the cold, but we forget how uncomfortable it is to be inside these boats in these kind of conditions. It's hard for any of us to sleep in the middle of the day and we wait to sleep more at night, when it is a bit cooler and there may be some breeze,” concluded Joca Signorini from on board “Telefónica”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 4 – 13:00 UTC – 26th April 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 3,876.9 miles to finish
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +7.7 miles
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +30.4 miles
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +31.9 miles
5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +69.6 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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