The high pressure played games with the fleet during the night, slowing down the racing pace to unexpected lows. At average boat speeds of between five and seven knots, the fleet has been forced to exercise patience to get through this lull. "Telefónica" is currently sailing in the middle of the high but the crew won't be letting up, with 'Groupama' just three miles ahead, and the main aim in the team's sights.
The high is doing its worst in the North Atlantic and for almost 24 hours the fleet has been logging average speeds under ten knots. Andrew Cape, navigator on "Telefónica" explained: "This has been a very up and down leg and now we've hit one of the low points. We've been totally stuck in some high pressure today and we can see that things will continue to be unstable with a difficult route ahead. Let's see who comes out of this best".
At 04:00 UTC the situation appeared to take a slight turn, with the boats beginning to sail a bit faster but that didn't last as long as three hours and in the following report the low speeds were back to being top of the menu. "The weather info said that we'd be getting breeze since last night but right now we're in an almost total lull", wrote Diego Fructuoso in his daily report.
Whilst Ian Walker's boat seems to have got away, the rest of the fleet have stayed bunched tightly together. "We are still fighting the light airs and our rivals and anything can happen", confirmed Fructuoso.
At 10:00 UTC "Telefónica" was pointing north, the same direction as rival "Groupama", the team's closest rival. Only three miles lie between the French and Spanish boats. Both entries are sailing slowly at speeds of between 3.5 and 4 knots, with winds of between five and nine knots, although the latest data from the past 24 hours has seen the balance tip in favour of "Telefónica", which has managed to sail a little faster than "Groupama".
The key now is getting through the high pressure that has slowed down the fleet and which the boats are currently fully immersed in.
Latest estimates indicate that "Telefónica"could reach Lisbon at the end of the month, so on board the yacht the crew are beginning to make estimates relating to the points in play. "Of all of the entries 'Abu Dhabi' is the furthest away points-wise, so if we can't get away or win, then we hope that they do", said Fructuoso from on the boat, but the Spaniard is keeping his feet firmly on the ground: "That said, there's a long way to go and I hope that we'll have a chance at taking victory in Lisbon".
Exactly and according to the 10:00 UTC position report "Telefónica" is 1,819.7 miles from the finish, so that means that there is still more than 50% of the course ahead and as Andrew Cape said about the next few miles: "After this we're expecting some good sailing with good breeze and faster and we'll probably get some more complicated weather systems up ahead before we get to Lisbon".
Cold and shivers
Sailing in the North Atlantic aboard "Telefónica" the crew have started. To feel the cold, and while it might not be extreme, life on board is becoming more tricky, especially, as Fructuoso points out, "it has turned up suddenly"..
"I don't know what temperature the water is at, but on deck and in the boat it's cold. We've all got the lining in the sacks, but even so, it's like the cold gets inside you. I've just woken up and I've noticed that typical sore throat you get when it's really cold. A few electric blankets wouldn't go amiss! I hope when the sun comes out things will improve a bit", said the Spaniard.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 7
MIAMI (USA) - LISBON (PORTUGAL): 3,590 miles
Day 7 - 10:00 UTC - 27th May 2012
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 1,726.1 miles to finish
2. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +44.6 miles
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +63.4 miles
4. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +90.7 miles
5. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +93.6 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +125.5 miles