It looks like the pace is picking up on board "Telefónica". Into the fourth day of racing for the Spanish team and good news accompanies every position report. Over the last few hours ESP-1 has progressively and patiently moved in on her most immediate rivals. Leader "Puma" has gone from being 17 miles away to just six and the second-placed Kiwi entry saw a fourteen mile advantage dwindle down to just 0.3. This is some thrilling racing for sure.
With 266 miles covered over the past 24 hours and current average speeds of 11.3 knots (the best figures notched up in the fleet), the boat skippered by Iker Martínez has climbed into third place and is now ready to take on the waypoint at Pulau We (the northermost point of Sumatra) tackling it further North than the other boats, currently further to the windward side than the rest of the fleet.
It is semming ever more like the Spanish yacht's crew has been reaping the fruits of earlier decisions. In addition, the boat's position in the fleet in terms of the waypoint at Pulau We is excellent. "Groupama" skipper Franck Cammas himself admitted this morning that "'Telefónica' is very, very well-positioned."
During the early hours of this morning second-placed New Zealand entry "Camper", sailing on the same course as "Telefónica" six miles ahead, chose to move in on the leader: North American entry "Puma" and to third-placed entry in the provisional rankings for the leg: "Groupama". "Telefónica" meanwhile, chose to hold her position and to stick North.
The moves have meant that Iker Martínez and co., now 400 miles from Pulau We, have found themsleves sailing somewhat alone, with the rest of the fleet in closer proximity of one another. In a close margin of just four miles are "Puma", "Groupama" and "Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand", whilst further South are "Abu Dhabi" and "Sanya".
"We chose the northern option because we thought it was the right thing to do. It caused a lot of initial pain, but obviously two days down the road it’s paying back. We'll have to see if it all works out", commented Navigator Andrew Cape in a link-up with the boat skippered by Iker Martínez today.
However, Capey also warns that the coming hours will be crucial in getting a clearer picture of which tactics will yield results, especially as there are some light winds expected: "We’ve taken the tack now, over the next 24 hours it’s going to go light, so when the other boats tack and have to head up towards the top of Sumatra there that’s where we’re looking to make some gains. A mile or two every sked would be great." Over the past six hours between 10:00 and 16:00 UTC "Telefónica" has sabed more than four miles off the gap with "Puma", provisional leader of this leg made up of over 3,000 miles towards Sanya (China).
"In the sked at 10:00 UTC we put seven mile on everyone which I don’t think is going to happen all the time, we still have a tricky zone ahead with a lot of cloud action and squalls so it will be interesting that’s for sure, keep watching" added Capey.
"The breeze will change a lot by the time we’re there" Cape reminds us. "Being a tricky zone anyway, we’ll just be observing where the wind is, and where to go. But there are other obstacles there that will be critical like fishing boats and mud banks, it’s not a pleasant place to sail so you just have to be alert."
"The top of Sumatra itself will be very interesting, a lot could happen there. I’ve only raced there once, just once is an analogue situation, so all I know is it’s a chaotic situation and you have to look at the situation once you’re there" conculded the Navigator on ESP-1.
Heat vs polar fleeces
Meanwhile the star of the show on board is still the heat. "Hot, very hot is how I can best describe my state right now! As simple as that", said Neal McDonald today. And that's with the sea at 29ºC!
A first-timer in round-the-world voyages, Diego Fructuoso was perhaps ill-prepared when it came to packing the right clothing for the leg... "As you might all know already, each one of us is allowed to carry on a small personal bag with a change of clothes in it: trousers, a T shirt and a pair of pants, etc. If you see that you're likely to get wet outside you can put on your wet-weather gear and if not you just go out there in your normal clothes. Right now we're all just wearing short and T shirts, the lightest clothes we've got".
"Well, I've realised that I've only got one light T shirt with me! I've got a couple of fleece tops and fleece-lined trousers but I don't think I'll be using them on this leg so I'll have to wash my T shirt with the soap for the dishes. I really need to talk to (Andrew) Cape before starting the legs to see what I need to take with me..."
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS STAGE 2 - LEG3
Day 4 – 16:00 UTC – 25th January 2012
1 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 2,104.5 miles from finish
2 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +5.5 miles from leader
4 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +5.8 miles
3 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +6.9 miles
5 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +22.6 miles
6 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +30.2 miles