Calm always follows a storm and now after grappling with the light airs around the belt of calms at the Equator, Iker Martínez's “Telefónica” is sailing with the trade winds and notching up some good boat speeds in an ocean match race against “Puma” and “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”, jumping right back into the ring to snatch back second place in the rankings. On board the boat the crew are conscious that the situation could change radically from one moment to the next, as Iker Martínez says: “Slowly but surely each boat will move into the position they think they should be in with a view to a day and a half's time, when things will really get very complicated indeed. Right now that is the most difficult and crucial matter in hand: how to race when the wind lets up?”.
Having got through the Doldrums, “Telefónica” is sailing with the trades in the North Atlantic with 19 knots easterly winds at average boat speeds of 20.5 knots. For Andrew Cape “it's fantastic to be sailing here. We're now in the trades and we've got 18 knots of breeze and we're sailing at 20 knots. We are all within sight of one another. We're probably going to get another 30 hours of good sailing and then things will get bad again. We're doing everything we can right now and we'll have to wait to see what happens. It looks like the breeze will be light as we head towards the finish, so we've got to make the most of everything now”.
Iker Martínez explained this morning that “we had a night of fairly consistent winds and things went well for us. The night before was a really tough night, or disastrous night with very light airs and the wind shifted 180 degrees... We didn't have any breeze at all, so today was much more fun. The sun's come up now and it looks like the forecasts are giving us some good wind for a couple of days. We really have to make the most of it, because it looks like the end of the leg is going to be drawn out and there may be very light airs, so that's why we've really got to make the most of now and we'll what happens further ahead”.
The fight at the front of the fleet continues and at 13:00 UTC “Telefónica” was 6.6 miles from “Puma” and moving in on “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”, just 3.6 miles ahead. Andrew Cape spoke of the new situation and the plan ahead: “We are trying to get back into second place; to get past 'Camper'. We had one bad report, but now we're starting to claw back. Right now it's a speed race and we are trying to go as fast as we can. Bearing in mind the randomness of what can happen at the end of the leg, we're hopeful. Of course, we haven't got a one hundred mile lead, but we're also not a hundred miles behind anyone. We're just there, in the leader group and we're confident”.
The “Telefónica” skipper explained the current fleet formation in the following terms: “Day has broken and 'Puma' is to our bow and to leeward, fairly nearby. ‘Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand’, was leeward but has now disappeared and we can't see them. We imagine they've moved away with a bigger sail. They must have hoisted the spinnaker and moved further down... In any case, the decisions that are being made with a view to the end of the leg are emerging now. 'Groupama' is behind, luffing and gaining more east and in an opposite move, 'Abu Dhabi' is gaining west”.
The fastest in 24 hours
“Telefónica” has logged some excellent data over the past 24 hours that has converted the Spanish team in the fastest in this racing fleet. In this latest day of competition “Telefónica” has covered 388 miles at average speeds of 16.1 knots.
2,000 never ending miles...
The fleet is about to storm past the 2,000 mile to the finish mark, but the final stretch of the leg won't be easy to complete. In particular, the final one thousand miles are set to be torturous for the boats: “They will be very difficult, but they are still far away. The arrival date is looking fairly grim because of the light airs at the finish, but things are slowly getting better. We calculate around the eleventh of May but that could change rapidly if the forecast improves”, concluded Andrew Cape.
So, with the complicated situation ahead for “Telefónica”, some initial decisions have been taken on board and according to MCM Diego Fructuoso: “Of the 2,000 miles left it looks like the first half will be good. The 'car park', as Capey calls it, will come afterwards. Here among the crew none of us can believe it's going to take us that long (ten days) to cover that distance, but even so, we've begun to ration our food supplies. We've drawn up a table and every day a couple of us give up one dish to save food. We hope we won't need it. One thing's for sure, that there'll be no cold meats left, which is unforgivable on here”.
Making our way through... seaweed!
Despite the good weather conditions enjoyed by the fleet, there are some complications below sea level, with seaweed turning the route to Miami into a minefield for the boats. “We're going through an area that Pepe has termed 'the big seaweed sea' because we find ourselves having to check the endoscope regularly to see that we haven't caught anything”, explained Fructuoso in his daily report, before adding a reassuring: “It's interesting, because they aren't getting tangled with the boat and we've been through some really green zones”.
The new sailing conditions are making life on “Telefónica” a bit more difficult now: “This thing is shaking like a cocktail shaker again. After a long period of calm, we've had a shaky night, but we're all doing well on here and the boat is at full speed. The fight between the three frontrunners isn't letting up and it looks like we're taking it in turns to be the fastest at each position report”, explained Diego Fructuoso from on board the boat.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 10 – 13:00 UTC – 2nd May 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 1,939.3 miles to finish
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +3 miles
3. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +6.6 miles
4. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +107.7 miles
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +111.9 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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