“Telefónica” went all in against “Groupama” in the fight for the third step on the podium of this sixth leg of the regatta, heading into the final stretch of the leg. The Spanish boat looked for an opportunity at the island of Cat, one of the islands at the centre of the archipelago of the Bahamas. The crew gybed late yesterday afternoon to put the island to port, whilst the French stayed on the inside. At 14:00 UTC today the distance between the two boats, with just 200 miles to the finish, stood at just 11.9 miles.
Playing a new card
Perhaps this was the card up Iker Martínez's sleeve yesterday when he said “we must be patient for now and we're waiting for a good change to get us back in the game”. The moment and the change arrived late yesterday afternoon when the courses of the Spanish and French boats separated, with the former choosing to continue sailing with the island of Cat to starboard and Martínez and crew putting it to port.
At the moment of the gybe the distance between the two was 16 miles and during the early hours of the European morning the gap between the two had even got to just 1.7 miles, thanks to the routing chosen by the guys on Telefónica”, with the yacht enjoying the most breeze of the two.
“At least we've had a night where we expected light air and in the end we got something better, which means that we clawed some miles back on ‘Groupama’”, said Jordi Calafat this morning.
The Spanish boat hasn't yet managed to push ahead of the gallic crew, however, the chosen play has clearly reduced the difference between the two boats. Now at 11.9 miles from Franck Cammas and his guys the Mallorcan sailor said “they're at a distance that isn't easy, but it's not impossible”.
200 miles to finish
There are 200 miles left for the Spanish boat to get in front of “Groupama” and many obstacles along the way, as the team's MCM Diego Fructuoso explained: “In the latest position report they are seven miles away, so when the sun comes out we'll see them. We've still got gybes, islands, currents and shifts to deal with. We hope we can finish in front and it would be very important to us in terms of the overall standings”.
It all points to the fact that after 17 days of racing, 4,600 miles covered and now at 11.9 miles from the rival in front, the last few miles of the leg will be a tooth and nail battle.
“Groupama” has passed the obligatory waypoint of the island of Eleuthera and “Telefónica” is set to do the same shortly. “There are two gybes to go and we'll be entering the channel and from there it's fast to Miami”, explained Calafat. “Once we enter the channel it may be a bit of a merry-go-round in there”, he added.
Keeping an eye on fuel, food and not falling asleep!
The intensity of the last chances for the leg has made an impact aboard the boat, as Diego Fructuoso says. For now, on “Telefónica”, “we can all hardly sleep and we're prepared for anything”.
It's worth adding a lack of food to the lack of sleep. The tin of anchovies that Spaniard Antonio “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons has stored away won't take long to be opened now and we're sure they'll taste great...
Another eye will have to be kept on fuel levels, because according to the team's MCM “we're running low and that's something we are more worried about than the food, because without fuel we can't move the keel, see the electronics, the computers... We hope it lasts at least until the finish”.
However, at least the estimated finishing time has improved a lot and as Jordi Calafat and his sense of humour point out: “that is important in terms of food, social wellbeing and fuel... It's like Big Brother on here and all you can hear is chatter of who is eating the cereals, biscuits etc.... I myself prefer to finish and have myself a decent hamburger”, he laughed.
This afternoon the first boat will finish
Meanwhile in Miami, the city is awaiting the arrival of the first boat to finish the leg, with leader, American entry “Puma” set to finish at approximately 17:00 UTC, 13:00 local time. With just 39.8 miles left of the sixth leg, Ken Read's crew have a 0.3 mile lead on the second-placed entry, from New Zealand.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 6
ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL) – MIAMI (USA): 4,800 miles
Day 17 – 14:00 UTC – 9th May 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 39.8 miles to finish
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +0.3 miles
3. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +94.9 miles
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +122.2 miles
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +106.6 miles
Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
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