With the Southern Hemisphere now astern, “Telefónica” continues on course for Miami (USA), now in second place following a night of gybing for the Spanish boat. The aim was to push away from the New Zealanders, now slowly trailing further and further behind Iker Martínez and co. It looks very much like “Telefónica” has come out on top in this first round of head to head battle on the leg.
As the fleet hit the one week mark on this sixth leg of the race, the Spanish team pushed past “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” at 16:00 UTC on Sunday the 29th April. Ever since, “Telefónica” with Iker Martínez has been pushing away from the Kiwis, with the gap currently standing at nine miles.
It wasn't easy to get past Chris Nicholson and his guys, as Diego Fructuoso pointed out: “Yesterday (Sunday) was very exciting. We had some close battling with 'Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand' for the whole day as they were nearby and we entered into a gybing battle with them.” As things stand, “Telefónica” emerged triumphant from this first round of battle, and as the Spanish MCM says: “It's usually quite rare to see the other boats in a regatta like this, so I'm grateful for a situation like yesterday's, especially with a favourable outcome, as was the case for us, getting past them in the end.”
From second place in the rankings and 30 miles from the provisional leg leaders, American entry “Puma”, the crew on “Telefónica” are aware that “we are in a good position. We have 'Puma' to leeward, closer to the coast, still leading the leg. They have been doing really well since the start of the leg. We need to get close to them to later be able to get past them,” explained Fructuoso in his daily report.
At 19.56 knots of speed according to the 13:00 position report, Xabi Fernández explained: “We've been stuck to 'Camper' for the past 24 hours and yesterday we got them and managed to pass them downwind. The night was somewhat strange, as we hadn't expected the breeze to shift as much as it did, but it's gone to the northeast and now we're reaching, just slightly faster than them. It's also true that “Puma” has sped up to faster speeds than us and has slipped a little bit further away, but we'll see if we can get them.”
Bye Bye Southern Hemisphere
At 09:10 UTC today (Monday) “Telefónica” crossed the Equator for the fourth time in this regatta, having done so on the first, second and fourth legs of the competition. Hereon, and for what's left of the race, the Spanish crew will be sailing in the waters of the Northern Hemisphere. This was therefore the final Equator crossing for Iker Martínez and crew for this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The weather conditions that the Spanish boat is up against now will be different and the calms at the Equator will make themselves felt, although, as Xabi Fernández reminded us: “This is a tricky zone. We've juts passed the Equator and now we've got the Doldrums to get through. They're not usually too bad here but you can already see that we're getting breeze that wasn't in the forecasts.”
As they might have expected, the conditions in the Southern Hemisphere turned out to be totally different to conditions on the previous legs. “We've been racing for a week now and it's gone really fast. The weather and our position in the race both help a lot. I hope that this continues to Miami,” said Diego Fructuoso.
I promise to...
With six months of sailing under their belts, on board “Telefónica” thoughts are now turning to the possibility of actually making a good finish in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, with the crew already starting to make 'promises'. A noteworthy promise is that of Pepe Ribes, Antonio Cuervas-Mons, Jordi Calafat and Diego Fructuoso, which, as the MCM points out involves: “A few of us on the crew have said that if we manage a good end result in the regatta we'll do the 'Camino de Santiago' [the St James' Way pilgrimage route]. Pepe, Ñeti, Jordi and I have been the 'brave' ones and in theory we'd do it in October and by bike, so I hope I'll be able to do some training on the bicycle this summer...”.
And so, after covering almost 40,000 nautical miles (over 70,000 kilometres) the 'brave' guys from “Telefónica” will get on bicycles to add another 775 km to that figure, this time with the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela, in the Northwest corner of Spain, in their sights.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 8 – 13:00 UTC – 30th April 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 2,612.1 miles to finish
2. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +30.7 miles
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +39.7 miles
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +86.5 miles
5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +141.7 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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