“Telefónica” has been embroiled in a no holds barred battle for the Azores, the obligatory waypoint on this eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race over the past 24 hours. Having taken the lead in Atlantic waters, the Spanish boat saw the French entry move ahead as the boats make their way to the Azores. From on board the yacht Iker Martínez said: “We're fighting against all of the odds. We've got 'Groupama' here beside us and 'Puma' too, so it's all ok. We're ahead, so it couldn't be better although 'Groupama' is very fast (in these conditions they usually sail very fast), but we are defending very well and shortly the we'll be entering the lull”.
During the past few hours the fleet has been notching up some excellent average speeds, as “Telefónica”'s own averages reveal for the past 24 hour run: at 14.5 knots of average boat speed the yacht notched up another 349 nautical miles. However, the situation is beginning to change as the leaders are entering the anticyclone at the Azores, which will without doubt see the speeds of the VO70s dwindle and may constitute a new starting grid for the boats as they head for Lorient (France). “Telefónica” has begun to sail in an area under the influence of the high pressure and at 13:00 UTC the boat was doing 8 knots with winds of between seven and eleven knots from the north.
However, the second day of racing hasn't been straightforward for the Spanish team who have pointed their bow west. “Today has been quite tough and we've been able to see 'Groupama' and 'Puma' the whole time and we've had to fight to defend the lead tooth and nail. There was quite a lot of breeze and we were reaching in conditions that 'Groupama' generally sail very fast in. Thankfully we did well and the two boats are close together”, confirmed Diego Fructuoso in his daily report, although the Spaniard was cautious, adding “the breeze has dropped now, we've got eight knots and it will continue to drop for the rest of the day. We need to really push as hard as we can to get past the Azores in the lead, and that way we could push away from the fleet. We've got just over 24 hours ahead of very hard work and we'll have to be pretty extreme when it comes to transferring the weight to the bow or astern to make the boat go as fast as it can”.
For now, as Andrew Cape says: “We're fairly confident in these conditions and we've got the right boat for them, but so have the others, so we've really got to push hard, there's no doubt about that. All of us here, on this boat and on the rest are competitors, but we're clearly watching out for the French. We'll have to see what happens”.
A trap called the Azores
There's no doubt that sights are on the islands of the Azores and more specifically on the island of San Miguel which “Telefónica” and the rest of the fleet will have to put to starboard. The key will be how to get past the famous high pressure at the Azores, an anticyclone that will slow down the fleet and which in the words of Andrew cape will be “very big. We need to get to it to get more breeze and then aim for the best routing to Lorient. It's a question of how hard we push. It's going to be awful but it's what we've got to do”. Fortunately, according to the navigator, the situation they're facing “will be interesting, we've prepared the boat very well, the shore crew have, so I think that we'll be able to cross this well and get a good result”.
Aboard the Spanish entry the crew are well aware that the system will set out a new starting grid for the boats and the strong winds awaiting the yachts when they exit the anticyclone will test the boats, with Cape also reflecting on the possible steps that will be taken by “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” and the Americans on “Puma”: “They have the opportunity to take more risks, but if you look at the probability and the numbers, risks might not always be worth it, so they'll do what they've got to do and so will we. Something's going to happen... what and to whom no one can say yet. He chance of breaking something is the same for us all and nobody is going to be the first to ease off the gas, so we're all going to be going very fast. This is going to be some very close racing because nobody wants to go slower and once again it'll be a really interesting aspect of this leg, how many risks and to what degree they'll be taken”.
As they wait for conditions to change, the “Telefónica” navigator is optimistic about what the crew has achieved over the first two days of competition on this leg: “The mood on board is good, as is team spirit and we have to do well. We're in the right place right now and there aren't too many aspects of this ahead which are just pure luck, so we'll have to wait”.
Less than 1,500 miles away from Lorient
“Telefónica” is facing one of the shortest legs of this round the world regatta and there are now 1,500 nautical miles to go until they reach their destination and the crew are still standing by one clear objective, which Andrew Cape summed up in a phone call from the boat: “On each leg we set off with the aim of winning. The mentality doesn't change and we go out to to win. We have a great boat so we have to make that happen”.
With such a short leg, the crew has had to adapt even more quickly to the extreme sailing conditions and it looks like the adaptation process has gone very smoothly, as Fructuoso confirmed: “Everything's going well here and we're getting over our headaches and having a bit of an upset tummy over the first few days, which thankfully I didn't suffer this time. Only a few people had breakfast with cereals yesterday and they were finished by this morning, which is a always a good sign”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 8
LISBON (PORTUGAL) – LORIENT (FRANCE): 1,940 miles
Day 2 – 13:00 UTC – 12th June 2012
1. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), 1,260.9 miles from finish
2. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +2.1 miles
3. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +4.7 miles
4. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +8 miles
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +8.1 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +16.6 miles
Skipper Iker Martínez explains how is the situation on board "Telefónica" and tells us what has happened in the last 24 hours
(On the first broken rudder on Thursday 14th June ...
At 20:00 UTC yesterday, 14th June, having solved the issue of a broken starboard rudder, “Telefónica” was back in the lead of the eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean ...
Information at 14.00 UTC. Despite beating the speed record for this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race for the fourth time this afternoon, notching up a 24 hour ...
What a final stretch! As expected, the storm which swallowed up the fleet has also provided the necessary ingredients for a speed record for this edition of the Volvo Ocean ...
The islands of the Azores have now been put astern by "Telefónica" after a night of very hard work in which the Spanish boat took back the lead. As ...
“Telefónica” has been embroiled in a no holds barred battle for the Azores, the obligatory waypoint on this eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race over the past 24 hours. ...
?The first 24 hours of the eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race have gone well for “Telefónica” with the boat moving into the lead of the leg with an ...
The eighth and penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race is underway, kicking off today in Lisbon, Portugal at 12:00 UTC with 11 knots of northwesterly breeze. There are ...
19 knots of breeze were blowing in the River Tajo today as the tide began to come in, at the predicted time of 12:00 UTC. That's when the eighth ...