With the Brazilian city of Recife now astern, “Telefónica”, “Puma” and “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” have entered a three horse gallop towards Miami on this sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The crew headed up by Iker Martínez spent most of yesterday afternoon making ground on their most immediate rivals: Ken Read's American team “Puma” and Chris Nicholson's “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”. “Telefónica” chose the track closest to the coast and in doing so moved up into second place in the rankings at 01:00 UTC. Six hours later, however, the Spanish boat dropped back into third.
During that period “Telefónica” chose to gain east to avoid the danger of hitting a wind hole near the coast. Despite gaining over four miles more east than the Kiwis, Martínez and co are still very close behind them and notching up higher speeds. According to the 10:00 UTC position report, “Telefónica” is the fastest of the frontrunners, notching up speeds of 12.3 knots. Will they be able to pounce on the lead from the east?
In any case, it's the data that does the talking and over the past 24 hours of racing, from 10:00 UTC yesterday to the same time today, the gap between the Spanish team and the leader has gone from 32.7 miles to 7.5 miles, whilst the boat immediately up ahead, with Chris Nicholson and co has gone from being 16.4 miles away to just a mile and a half.
“It's really interesting to be able to see the other boats, because you can see straight away if you're doing better or worse and there's no three hour wait for a position report”, wrote Diego Fructuoso from on board the boat. However these circumstances ramp up the stress levels aboard the boat, with the crew responding to their rivals' every move and as a consequence the pace of manoeuvring soars.
The focus right now is on making it past the northeastern point of Brazil to be able to set course for Miami. “In less than 200 miles we'll make it past the famous point and we'll be able to begin to drop off”, said the MCM from Murcia, Spain. “It'll almost be like starting a new race, because we're very close together”.
A longer leg than expected?
According to navigator Andrew Cape's calculations, if the forecasts stay as they are now, the fleet may be able to reach Miami, the finishing point for this leg, some two days later that initially predicted: so that would be on Tuesday, 8th May.
“We might need to start thinking about putting some food aside”, ended Fructuoso.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 6 – 10:00 UTC – 28th April 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 3,363 miles from finish
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +6 miles
3. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +7.5 miles
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +25.7 miles
5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +99.1 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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