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 day broke the crew headed up by Iker Martínez was the first in the fleet to put the only obligatory waypoint on the leg to starboard, the island of San Miguel, doing so with a three minute lead on French entry "Groupama". The latest position report shows the gap between them is 1.6 miles. There's a squall to cross ahead and a leg to be won.
The struggle between the Spanish and French entries has reached new heights over the past 24 hours. Franck Cammas overtook Iker Martínez during yesterday afternoon whilst immersed in the calms at the Azores: "It was a fairly difficult day due to the light airs. Right from daybreak we were dealing with lulls, although not as big as some of the light patches experienced in previous legs. During one of the drops in breeze 'Groupama' decided to go to leeward and got past us. After such mammoth efforts they got past us without much difficulty," said Diego Fructuoso in his daily report from the boat.
However, during the early hours of the morning, at 01:20 UTC, "Telefónica" gave a push which saw the boat move into a two mile lead of "Groupama". A few hours later at 04:56 UTC the Spanish boat's lead was confirmed with the yacht passing the island of San Miguel as the leg frontrunner. It was, therefore, a long and productive night on "Telefónica", which Fructuoso commented on from aboard the boat: "The tricky thing about the passage through the Azores was to know when to tack, so as not to come up short or to have to tack further twice or more and end up notching up more mileage. Wae tacked before ‘Groupama’ which went really well for us and meant we got past them. Right now they are very nearby, but slightly astern. We can also see ‘Puma's light."
For now, in the words of the Spanish MCM: "Things are still the same for us, and we're trying to go as fast as we can. We are moving everything from the bow to the stern without much rest at all". At 13:00 UTC “Telefónica” was sailing at 21.9 knot boat speeds with westerly winds.
North! With strong winds
After days of pointing west, which is something that hasn’t happened in the Atlantic since the first leg, when the fleet we heading for Cape Town (South Africa), "Telefónica" has pointed her bow northeasterly and it's a question of minutes before the crew breaks through the 'one thousand miles to finish' mark with so much still undecided on this eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
With the passage past the island of San Miguel out of the way, sights are now on a squall which has formed to the northwest of Galicia and which is slowly moving towards the Iberian peninsular. Once the fleet 'catches' the low pressure they'll ride it towards Brittany with winds of up to 40 knots.
The strong winds will put the boats to the test once more and on board "Telefónica", according to Fructuoso they are already preparing for the extreme conditions: "The wind will pick up soon and it looks like it's going to be very strong. We've got just over one thousand miles to go, but anything can happen."
A passage through the Azores with inclusive entertainment
There's no doubt that the passage past San Miguel was a big boost in the morale stakes for the crew, with Portuguese fans coming out in the middle of the night on their boats to cheer on "Telefónica".
Diego Fructuoso felt that this was one of the most special moments in the round the world race so far and didn't hesitate in thanking everyone for their efforts and in thanking all of the fans of Team Telefónica: "Even though it was the middle of the night lots of boats came out to greet us as we headed through the Azores... Thank you!" he said.
SAN MIGUEL WAYPOINT
1. Team Telefónica. 4:56 UTC
2. Groupama sailing team. 4:59 UTC
3. Puma Ocean Racing. 5:08 UTC
4. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand. 5:28 UTC
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. 5:53 UTC
6. Team Sanya. 6:40 UTC
GENERAL RANKINGS LEG 8
LISBON (PORTUGAL) – LORIENT (FRANCE): 1,940 miles
Day 3 – 13:00 UTC – 13th June 2012
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 1,004.1 miles to finish
2. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +1.6 millas
3. Puma Ocean Racing by Berg (Ken Read), +2.9 miles
4. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +9.6 miles
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +20.3 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +38.8 miles
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