450 miles to go until Lisbon and the fleet are set to hit a red light which may prove crucial when it comes to defining the final positions at the finish in the Portuguese capital. “Telefónica” is approaching the end of the seventh leg and it looks very much like it's going to be a slow but intense one. Tonight will be crucial.
Watching out for the high pressure
After a few days sailing with a front which allowed “Telefónica” and the rest of the fleet to notch up speeds topping 20 knots, forecasts indicate that it's coming to an end and in a matter of hours the fleet is set to hit a new transition, this time high pressure with extremely light winds which the boats will have to battle with until some new breeze moves in and gives the boats a final push to Lisbon.
“Ahead of us we're up against a wall, which is a light patch and anything can happen”, explains skipper Iker Martínez from on board the yacht. “Right now we're thinking about how to cross the high; first we're going to have to do some good 'driving' and once we're we're in the anticyclone it's going to be difficult to get across it”.
The 13:00 UTC position report put “Telefónica” in fourth place after the New Zealanders positioned themselves astern at 15:00 UTC yesterday. Iker Martínez and crew pushed past the crew of “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” to windward and moved into the wake of the French crew who in turn climbed into second at 10:00 UTC today.
“Telefónica” and “Groupama”, both Juan K designs, have maintained similar speeds over the past few hours. Taking a look at the data for the last 24 hours with 477 further miles under their belts, the Spanish team have been averaging speeds of 19.8 knots and at speeds of 20 knots Franck Cammas and co have covered 480 miles.
An important night
It looks like the fleet will hit the red light tonight. Basque trimmer Xabi Fernández commented from on board that: “Tonight will be very important. We have to stay in there during the day and move in as far as we can, then we wait for night to come when the wind will die down completely. I'm sure that we're all going to group together again and it'll be like starting again”.
“When you're stuck in a light patch with no breeze you have to make the most of every single little wave and gust to push forward and try to push out of the calm”, he added.
Leader “Abu Dhabi” has a 28.7 mile lead on “Telefónica” which contrasts with yesterday's comfortable margin of 57.3 miles at the same hour. Second-placed “Groupama” is 13.6 miles ahead of the leader.
In Xabi Fernández's opinion Ian and Walker and crew: “have a lead that any of us would like to snap up in a minute, but this light patch is going to be very important, although it's always good to be first or up near the front, even if it's by a short margin, because it means you have the chance to get out earlier”.
The Basque trimmer agrees that the traffic lights up ahead my imply a change of scene on the last few miles to the finish: “I think that we're all likely to bunch together because really 20 miles aren't much and the light patch is going to be big and you have to give it your all and tread carefully”.
“Yes, it's definitely an opportunity”, Iker Martínez admits. “We've seen how these things work and once again anything can happen”.
It's important for the team to keep morale high. “Of course we'll be fighting to the end and I'd love to be where 'Abu Dhabi' or 'Puma' are now, but we can't swap places with them right now so what we have to do is just put all of our skill into this”, said Martínez.
The aim is clear. Iker Martínez and his men are going to put everything they've got into this, and that's what the skipper confirmed as the telephone link-up with the boat concluded this morning: “We need to try to get as many points out of this as we can, which is tough but we have to do it. We're going to give one hundred per cent and we'll keep fighting, as always”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 7
MIAMI (USA) – LISBON (PORTUGAL): 3,590 miles
Day 10 – 13:00 UTC – 30th May 2012
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 374.7 miles to finish
2. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +13.6 miles
3. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +13.9 miles
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +28.7 miles
5. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +30.7 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +49.2 miles
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