The weather has turned into quite a headache as “Telefónica” saw a shift in the breeze make a play against them, with the boat unable to gybe at the same time as its rivals. Right now the Spanish boat is waiting for the chance to make its comeback, as Iker Martínez said at midday today: “We have to think about the next move, which is how to get out of here, and then it'll be onwards from there. Some new winds are coming in and something different will happen, so we hope we can stop dropping miles and being notching them up once more”.
A shift to the north shifts plans
Yesterday, Thursday May 24th and Iker Martínez and crew had moved into the lead on route to Europe after moving ahead of Franck Cammas. However during the night the Spanish boat saw a wind shift move in and compromise the boat's positioning as the crew were left with no wind in their sails in mid North Atlantic. Meanwhile, the rivals to the north continued to sail with winds that took them to the front of the fleet.
Pepe Ribes, “Telefónica”'s Boat Captain explained the night's events during a videoconference and looked at how the situation had taken a 360º turn: “The entire fleet was immersed in the same front. We were ahead, leading for 30 hours and as the others were emerging from the front it passed us. At that moment we had the spinnaker up and the boats behind began to gybe north but we didn't have the angle of breeze to be able to gybe because we were still in the front. When we got the direction we needed to gybe, we did but they were very much further north and managed to gain an advantage that is quite big now”.
Sailing upwind, things weren't east and as Diego Fructuoso explained in his daily report from the boat: “We had to suffer the whole day yesterday. We began with gybes but all of the other boats had a shift in breeze to the north and it didn't reach us and it made it impossible for us to go on a port tack. We had to sail fairly starboard as the other boats pushed away. The feeling of powerlessness was considerable, especially after fighting so hard over the past few days”.
There's no doubt, as Iker Martínez says: “We've had a tough day. The regatta has also been tough so far and it looks like it's going to stay that way. We set off with light airs, then we hit a tropical pressure front and ended up tacking upwind and dropping back. The we did some great racing until we got ahead and then something that rarely happens happened: the boats in front, “Groupama” and ourselves, carried on sailing with what you might term the old breeze and the boats behind got new winds which meant that all they had to do was gybe to catch a more direct course. We really worked hard at it for hours but without the right breeze the loss was huge. Then we tried to do things another way and “Groupama” also did what they could and in the end there was just nothing we could do to stop the boats from pushing past us. Basically they went round us and I think that it would have been totally impossible to avoid them getting past, as we've seen, on an easterly or northerly course or whatever... they had a better set of conditions and that's all there is to it”.
Picking the pace back up
The skipper on the Spanish boat is focussing on limiting the damage of what happened last night so that it means the least possible loss of miles and according to the double Olympic medallist: “We're trying to limit the loss as much as we can ans we're waiting for a shift in breeze that will see us all sailing upwind and then we'll have to deal with the next problem, which looks like it could be some high pressure that's coming at us and looks fairly large which we'll have to get across with some very light airs. We've still got some tricky moments up ahead on the leg...”.
For now and according to the 13:00 UTC position report it looks like “Telefónica” is picking the racing pace back up, notching up speeds of 11.5 knots, a similar average to the trio of boats leading the fleet, ranging from 12 to 12.8 knots thanks to winds of between 11 and 16 knots from the north.
A question of timetables
The key will be over the next few hours when the different routings chosen by the yachts will converge and that's when we will really be able to see what the best option was. That's why, as Fructuoso explains: “We are all being pushed back together again, although it's our turn now to be at the tail end of the bunch. There is another crucial section of the leg coming up, maybe the most crucial part, which is getting through the high at the Azores. Whoever gets out of there in front will be able to get away and get to Lisbon first. I hope it's us”.
Pepe Ribes was also confident enough to say that there are still opportunities on the route up ahead: “it looks like there'll be a couple of fronts more which we'll have to negotiate and we hope we'll get the chance to come back. 2,100 miles is a long way and almost 60% of the leg and if the weather plays out according to the forecast today well then we should get the chance to claw back. If the weather was more stable and there weren't so many changes it might be very hard to claw back the miles, but we hope there'll be a chance to do so”.
A football pool
Now more than ever aboard “Telefónica” the working pace is at one hundred per cent with the only aim of climbing positions and pushing ahead over more and more miles. With just 2,000 miles to the finish at the port of Lisbon (Portugal) the Spaniard is beginning to draw some conclusions on the leg “we're still working hard here, hoisting sail after sail and shifting weight forward and aft according to the speed and angle of the breeze. Apart from tropical storm “Alberto” it's a fairly calm leg so far”.
As expected, the changes in the rankings were not welcome, but the “Telefónica” crew continues to focus and are thinking about their future options, and the team hopes to push past rivals. Iker Martínez touched on the subject this morning in a videoconference: “We were leading and now we have our rivals ahead of us and we're not pleased about that at all, so all we're thinking about is how to turn the situation around. Nobody's happy and we haven't had any luck and these things are rare, although that's just the way it is this time. I'm sure the guys in front who got past us are a lot happier than we are (laughs), but that's all there is to it”.
It's not all pure racing out here and 24 hours has given the guys on “Telefónica” time to daw up a pool for the forthcoming Spanish 'Copa del Rey' football final.
Pepe Ribes, who is a supporter of Valencia F.C, said: “I support Valencia, so I don't really care much. Sandra, my wife, is a staunch Barça supporter and my father is a bit of a Bilbao supporter because he really likes the club's philosophy and where they are from . I'm sure it's going to be a great match because both teams have played really well over the past year and I don't have any favourites, because whatever happens my family will be happy. If I had to choose I'd choose Bilbao because I think they've had a great season and they're young guys. Also after seeing them all in tears when they lost the Europa League I'd be happy for Bilbao to win”.
Meanwhile, Iker Martínez, who has said before that he's not a footie fan has actually taken an interest in this match, saying “I'm more of a Real guy, but I don't follow football much. If I had to choose though, I think it'd make me happier if Athletic Bilbao won”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 7
MIAMI (USA) – LISBON (PORTUGAL): 3,590 miles
Day 5 – 13:00 UTC – 25th May 2012
1. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 2,058.3 miles to finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +11.3 miles
3. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +18.8 miles
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +26.2 miles
5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +39.5 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +77.1 miles
The high pressure played games with the fleet during the night, slowing down the racing pace to unexpected lows. At average boat speeds of between five and seven knots, ...
After six days of racing and making it through a tropical storm, an anomalous downwind shift and numerous light patches, the fleet is now 1,900 nautical miles from the finishing ...
The weather has turned into quite a headache as “Telefónica” saw a shift in the breeze make a play against them, with the boat unable to gybe at the same ...
“Telefónica” has come out on top in the battle with France's “Groupama” - at least for now. From the lead and now with 2,500 miles to go until Lisbon ...
The past 24 hours have been really positive for Spain's “Telefónica”. After making it through tropical storm “Alberto” and moving up to the top spot during the night, the ...
Tropical storm “Alberto” has taken centre stage over the past 24 hours of racing, surprising the fleet by changing course in a completely unpredictable fashion. On board “Telefónica” some ...
The early hours of the course to Lisbon (Portugal) have proved quite a whirlwind for the fleet. There are constant shifts in the rankings and it seems that the ...
The Volvo Ocean Race fleet set off from Miami in what seemed like slow motion this Sunday afternoon, on their first moves of this seventh leg of the round the ...
The seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race will kick off this Sunday, and it's set to be the final great ocean leg of this edition of the round the ...
Everything's ready at Miami for the seventh In Port race of this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race and Iker Martínez and his “Telefónica” are very clear on the main ...