One of the areas on the course described by skipper Iker Martínez as among the most complicated of the sixth leg has now been put astern. “Telefónica” has now put the island of Puerto Rico behind and is sailing north to the Dominican Republic, almost directly on course for the Bahamas. The Spanish boat recovered second place in the fleet this morning having taken it at 18:00 hours yesterday to momentarily let go of it. “Now it's time for some speed”, wrote the Basque skipper from aboard the boat.
“Telefónica” is pushing forth as the boat furthest north in the fleet and is moving closer to the archipelago of the Bahamas, maintaining a certain distance to the islands whilst “Puma” and “Camper” have opted to hug the coastline much more. Each of the teams are playing out their hands: “Of the three frontrunners we are the furthest to windward, so we are trying to run as much as we can to close the door on those to leeward”, explained Diego Fructuoso.
Little by little “Telefónica” is moving closer to Miami, now 696 miles to the boat's bow. Even though they were lucky enough to have a faster night than expected, the team's MCM says: “We have just had a pretty windy night, which was quite unexpected for us all. The breeze has done us good although it's already dropped and we've got yesterday's conditions back again”.
Things are likely to continue as such for the whole day and as watch leader Neal McDonald says: “Things change so rapidly that we have to keep our eyes wide open”.
According to the 10:00 UTC position report “Telefónica” is sailing with northeasterly breeze of some 11 knots and notching up average speeds of 13.8 knots with that. The boat's most immediate rivals “Puma” and “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” have more breeze right now; 1.5 and 2.4 knots respectively, meaning that they are pushing forward faster.
Alert: High pressure in sight!
Miami is now 696 miles from “Telefónica”. Before setting a direct course for Florida's most famous city, there is an obligatory waypoint to be negotiated, which as Iker Martínez points out is some 600 miles directly ahead, in a straight line, although the Basque skipper points out that “it looks like it will be a long haul”.
One thing has been made very clear over the course of the round the world regatta and that is that there is no easy way in this race... “We have to grapple with some high pressure that might be giving us a lot to think about over the next few days. Depending on how this evolves and where this moves we may need to adapt our routing. It'll be hard because it moves a lot faster than us, so to a great extent we're at its mercy”, said Iker Martínez.
More stress in the bag: “This is a comfortable sail physically but very tough psychologically. Frequent changes in the positions are easily seen”, commented Neal McDonald in a telephone link-up with the Spanish yacht this morning.
It's important, therefore to keep an eye on all of the competitors racing this sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, both the guys front and behind, regardless of the gap separating the entries currently. Martínez is keen to remember that: “Right now we are in an important play for positions with ‘Camper Emirates Team New Zealand’, and although ‘Puma’ is a bit further ahead catching up with them is also not out of the question. At the same time we also need to keep an eye on 'Groupama' because, as we've already seen in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, things can be very close right up to the finishing line”.
Going for the top?
With “Puma” at 37.3 miles ahead and the New Zealanders seven miles astern, the passage through the Bahamas may provide an opportunity to pounce on the lead held by the North Americans.
Staying consistent is fundamental and in the opinion of watch leader Neal McDonald: “Consistency and regularity are what we have to maintain and up to know our ocean legs have been very consistent and that's where most of the points lie. We need to keep working on it and be aware that things can change and not make any sudden moves”.
Spanish anchovies and a clean T-shirt
This morning Diego informed everyone that tomorrow (Monday) would be the final day of 'normal' eating: “After that it'll be about pulling out everything we've stored away. I hope not to have made any mistakes in my calculations and that everything goes well”. The luckiest of the guys may be “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons, who has an ace hidden up his sleeve: “He's brought a can of Spanish anchovies with him that he's been saving for days like these”, discovered Fructuoso.
There's always something to look forward to and Diego rounded up today by telling us that “making most of the fact that it's Sunday I'm going to pull out my last clean shorts and T shirt, which will have to last me until Miami”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 14 – 10:00 UTC – 6th May 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 659.3 miles to finish
2. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +37.3 miles
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +44.3 miles
4. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +118.7 miles
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +154.3 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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