“Telefónica” has begun to claw back miles, currently on a northerly course and from third place in the rankings, the Spanish team is exerting pressure on their most immediate competition and has moved to just 13 miles from “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”. This follows a night where “Telefónica” stood up to her two main rivals: the New Zealanders and Americans, positioned ahead of the boat's bow on the advance to Miami.
“Telefónica” moved ahead of “Abu Dhabi” during yesterday (26th April) afternoon (UTC). Since then the crew haven't let go of third place. It also looks like “Telefónica” is on a roll, as today's 13:00 UTC position report confirmed average speeds topping 14 knots and the Spanish boat having moved dangerously close to “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”, with 13 miles now separating the two entries.
With these good figures on the clock at the height of Salvador de Bahía, Andrew Cape confirmed: “We are going quite fast now compared to yesterday. We've had a good stretch of racing up until now; we've had good conditions, the water's warm, it's sunny and there's not too much water on deck.”
However, the past 24 hours have been tough on “Telefónica” and according to Iker Martínez “we've had a bit of everything. The shift from the right came a lot later than expected and we've passed through a lot of tricky zones on route, with squally conditions etc. After having sailed for a while upwind with the J1 we decided to tack and bring the Code Zero up. Well, not even ten minutes and an 18 knot gust came in, forcing us to position ourselves downwind to be able to roll up the sail and get the J1 out again.” The skipper on “Telefónica” went on to confirm that “this is the type of thing that might happen over the next few days, especially as it gets dark and as light breaks in the morning.”
The fastest boat over the past 24 hours
There's no doubt that the last 24 hours have been very positive for “Telefónica”, as the latest position report confirms, with the Spanish boat having covered the furthest distance: 330 miles, which is 14 more miles than immediate rival “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”.
Fortunately the Spanish entry seems to have now reached an area of more stable winds. “At last we've got some more steady northeasterly winds. We've got through the two transitions that we were expecting ahead of the more common winds for the area. After quite a few days we are now making an almost exactly northerly course towards north Brazil,” said Iker Martínez.
For Iker, the key now is “doing everything we can not to let the guys in front push away, because they're in a zone of more breeze or get better angles. The thirty miles separating us from the frontrunners represent a good gap considering there are still over 3,000 miles to go, but we are afraid that the guys in front may catch better winds as we head north and may be able to push away faster than us and make that gap bigger.”
Thinking about the coming days
On board “Telefónica” the crew are already thinking about how to take on the next few days: “If there are no calms we can reach the latitude of Natal,” explained Iker from aboard the boat, and continued by saying: “Once we get to the north of Brazil we'll begin to do some very different sailing with fairer winds until we get to the Bahamas, where we'll have an obligatory waypoint before we set course for Miami. From here to Natal lots can happen: calms, clouds...”
Pepe Ribes remembered that “there are still more than 3,000 miles to go where the speed of the boat is going to be very important, especially from Cape Santa Catalina. We're getting a lot less breeze than we had expected, at least for now. Let's see if things speed up a bit and we can really maximise the performance of the boat.”
“Telefónica” navigator Andrew Cape seconded that: “Anything can still happen to any of us and the leg is still wide open. This is a race of endurance that we're doing well in and we're secure. There is still a long way to go and we can do it. We've only done 22 or 23 per cent and there's still a lot of racing to go.”
Pablo Arrarte, a surprise star
In today's report, Iker was also eager to send out a message to the crew's families and friends: “Everything's going well, the crew are in perfect shape and the boat too and we're all looking forward to heading for Miami.”
However, it seems that Pablo Arrarte has become the inadvertent star of the tales from aboard “Telefónica” and as such Iker provided an update: “The Patán shoe tales have ended with him using one of his own, a size 45 and one of mine, a size 42. I think he may reach Miami with one foot bigger than the other.”
Diego Fructuoso wrote: “With such light air the noise inside the boat has reduced right down and you can hear the people inside and in particular Patán who doesn't let the others sleep with his snoring... He says it's because he's a bit blocked up, but I don't really know about that, but yesterday we had to throw a plastic bottle at him to make him stop.”
But for now there's no more time to recount the tales from the boat, because as Iker concluded: “We are still fighting.”
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 5 – 13:00 UTC – 27th April 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 3,555.5 miles from finish
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +14.7 miles
3. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +27.8 miles
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +42.8 miles
5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +104.1 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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