After the storm comes the calm, but by the same token, “after the calm, there's always a storm”, as Antonio Cuervas-Mons “Ñeti” says from on board “Telefónica”. Having now got through the area of calms in the middle of the feared “Roaring Forties” the boat headed up by Iker Martínez is preparing to step on the gas in the South Pacific, with winds of an average of 35 knots and downwind sailing expected over the next few days. “Telefónica” is ready to surf down to Cape Horn.
As the fleet gained South, the key to this leg, the boats entered an area of calms that saw a regrouping in the fleet but as Iker Martínez explained: “We are at day three or four and the race is about to restart”.
During the night the gaps between the frontrunners were negligible, less than half a mile and with similar speeds across the board. The 04:00 UTC position report confirmed that the fleet was averaging four knots and the only boat to escape the tricky situation was “Abu Dhabi” who hadn't yet hit the transition zone.
On board “Telefónica” the crew were able to make the most of the situation and according to Diego Fructuoso: “We've made the most of this to rest and recharge, to get some food down us and to fix some of the things that broke during the last few days”. Now it's just a question of hours before the Spanish boat steps back on the gas.
With the lull that pushed the fleet back together now out of the way, “Telefónica” surprised everyone this morning. Whilst the frontrunners were caught up in a battle to the East, Iker Martínez and co decided to push further South to move onto the same track as “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”, on the edge of the ice exclusion zone set up by the race organisers. From there they continued to gain East. This option won't pay any dividends in the short term for the Spanish team, but it may pay off in the next few days with the key being to “catch the typical winds coming at us from behind down in these latitudes that will push us as fast as possible to Cape Horn”, recounted Fructuoso in his daily report.
For now and according to eh 16:00 UTC position report, the bulk of the fleet are within a six mile radius of one another and all of the boats sailing at similar speeds, between 13 and 14 knots, thanks to northerly winds of 13 knots.
For Iker Martínez this will be: “the last day like this until we begin gaining North after Cape Horn. After this it looks like we've got a lot of wind in store and it will get complicated”.
In a fridge
Despite the fact that the sun made an appearance in the middle of the lulls, the cold felt down at the latitudes the fleet are sailing in has become something of a conversation topic on board “Telefónica”, with Iker laughing as he said: “It's cool... we're almost at 45º South and yes, it's starting to get chilly”, whilst Diego Fructuoso went further: “The cold is beginning to set in, and the drinking water comes out as if it's been in the fridge at home. The damp is unbelievable and it's like it's raining inside the boat, as it's full of drips of water that fall on you, which isn't pleasant”.
Despite the difficult conditions on board, the “Telefónica” skipper says: “we're doing well”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 5
AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND) – ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL): 6,705 miles
Day 4 – 16:00 UTC – 21st March 2012
1. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), 5,901.9 miles from finish
4. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +0.4 miles
3. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +1.1 miles
5. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +2.6 miles
2. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +5.8 miles
6. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +276.9 miles