"Telefónica" continues her advance through the Bahamas on this sixteenth day of competition between Brazil and Miami, USA. Following more than 4,400 miles of the leg there are now just 330 nautical miles to go until the finish with the Spanish boat battling against some very shifty conditions with light patches making for tough grind for the crew aboard the yacht. The past 24 hours "have been very hard work and it looks like it's going to stay that way for the rest of the regatta," said skipper Iker Martínez.
"Today will be a day of downwind sailing and gybing to avoid rocks, among things; after that it will be more of a straight line to Miami," said the Basque skipper. 190 miles ahead of the finishing line the Spanish crew will have to put the final waypoint of the sixth leg to port: the island of Eleuthera.
After a difficult day yesterday, things seem to be slowly improving. The wind gave "Telefónica" a tough time yesterday, with "Puma" and "Camper" pushing away with the breeze while they missed the rain and "Groupama" moved passed from the south, but little by little the Spanish crew is clawing back.
Over the past 25 hours Martínez and crew have made up 24.3 nautical miles on leader "Puma" with "Groupama", who were at 20.5 nautical miles from the Spaniards last night are now 16.5 miles away.
"We are now closer from ‘Groupama’ so let's see if we get a bit of luck and can get past them. The others are a bit further away, really, but we're going to do our best and we'll fight till the end!," said trimmer Xabi Fernández this morning.
Another light night
The breeze was light again tonight, especially at around 22:00 UTC when "Telefónica" and "Groupama" we're notching up 3.5 knots compared with "Puma" and "Camper"'s 6.4 and 5.9 knots, although three hours later all of these speeds increased with the entire fleet sailing between the Americans' 8.7 knots and 11 knots from "Telefónica", the fastest boat at that point.
"We had light airs during the night but at least we moved and things went fairly well, so let's see if things continue like that. The truth is that it looks like the wind is dropping now and it looks like things are getting tricky again", points out Xabi.
The 10:00 UTC position report shows that "Telefónica" is sailing with 8.7 knots average speeds on a W-WNW course, as the second fastest boat in the fleet after the French boat which is hitting 9 knots. Both teams chose to sail between the islands.
"It looks like we are going to get light airs again and I imagine that everyone will be looking for the most suitable situation to get out of them ahead. Once we get past the Bahamas it'll be more of a straight line," said Martínez.
High spirits to try to pass "Groupama"
Every point counts and on "Telefónica" they are well aware of that. "Morale is high and we all know how important points are at this point in the regatta. We're normally good at close finishes, so we've got to suffer a bit longer," wrote MCM Diego Fructuoso is morning.
The main aim is to pass Franck Cammas and crew, the team's most direct rival in the overall Volvo Ocean Race standings. Although it's difficult to say how the next 24 hours will develop, the Spanish crew are hoping for a shift that they'll be able to make the most of.
"We are not entirely sure, but it's clear that we will be doing all we can to get past them. We need a bit of help from the breeze to give us the opportunity. We must be patient now and we are waiting for a good change to be able to get back in the game. Conditions are very unstable and I'm hoping that the wind will be kinder to us this time than last. The most important thing now is to keep the boat moving the whole time," said Iker Martínez.
Latest estimates on the Miami finish are more optimistic than yesterday and it looks like the Spanish boat may take a couple of days to finish, therefore around or on Thursday 10th May.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) - MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 16 - 14:00 UTC - 8th May 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 271.6 miles to finish
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +13.7 miles
3. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +42.7 miles
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +59.2 miles
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +116.4 miles
Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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