24 hours after the start of the fifth leg in the Volvo Ocean Race and with the fleet now well into the Pacific Ocean, Iker Martínez and his “Telefónica” crew have taken control at the front as the most southerly and easterly boat also notching up higher speeds than their rivals report after report. The Spanish boat appears to have taken the pole position in terms of decision-making over the coming hours: should they continue East or move down South?
There are some extremely tough days ahead, with the yachts set to face winds topping 45 knots. As such, the possibility of breaking the longest distance run in 24 hours set by “Ericsson 4” at 599 miles is a possibility playing on the minds of many, although the highest speeds are reached at 25 knot averages and open courses (between downwind and reaching). Before starting this leg, Iker Martínez clearly stated that “It's not a priority”. The key, according to the Basque sailor, is sticking with the leader group and keeping a close eye on the boat and crew's safety.
Hours into the leg Iker said: “We're in the open sea. This is where the racing really begins. We've got a tough night ahead and there's a good chance of someone breaking something because conditions are going to be very tough, so we'll take it step by step”. The Basque skipper was on target with his predictions and during the night the fleet found itself battling against some of the most extreme conditions with winds of 40 knots and six metre waves recorded. That's before they even hit the famous 'Roaring Forties' or the 'Furious Fifties'. According to the position report at 13:00 UTC the boat lead by Iker Martínez was sailing with 22 knots of northerly breeze, and pushing forward at 21.4 knot speeds and despite the tough conditions, “Telefónica” is still holding onto the lead gained yesterday, Sunday 18th March, during the early afternoon.
The excellent data logged by the Spaniards boast the fastest speeds in the fleet over six consecutive reports and have also meant that “Telefónica” has continued to climb further and further away from their rivals. 13 now separate the entry from “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” and 27 lie between the Spanish and the French entry “Groupama”.
Over the past 24 hours “Telefónica” has covered 348 miles, exactly 20 more that Chris Nicholson and crew and 29 more than Franck Cammas and company. However, there are still some 6, 000 miles to go...
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 5
AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND) – ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL): 6,705 miles
Day 2 – 13:00 UTC – 19th March 2012
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 5,996.7 miles from finish
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +14.1 miles
3. Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +28.5 miles
4. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +31.9 miles
5. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +54.6 miles
6. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +654.4 miles