November 8, 2011 - 1000 UTC Leg One Day 4
Cammas gambles high on split from the fleet
Leg 1 Report: 08/11/2011 10:05:39 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 TELE 0.00 0.0 14.6 5946.3 2 GPMA 3.40 8.0 12 5949.6 3 PUMA 4.10 0.0 14.2 5950.4 4 CMPR 26.00 5.0 13.8 5972.3 - ADOR Suspended Racing - SNYA Retired from Leg 1
The fleet has shown its hand and decisions have been made from which there will be no going back. Franck Cammas/FRA has made a bold move to take Groupama rock-hopping just eight nautical miles off the Moroccan coast, while Chris Nicholson/AUS (CAMPER) changed tactics overnight and paid a high price to join Telefónica (Iker Martinez/ESP) and Kenny Read’s PUMA Mar Mostro in the west. She is now 25 nautical miles (nm) behind Telefónica who still leads the field.
Cammas’s decision to split from the pack is risky. It is unusual to have such a defined split in the fleet, and Cammas is clearly confident in his choice. However, there is now no return for Cammas. He has made his decision and to change would be very costly indeed. His plan will be to pick up some thermal driving breeze from heat of the coast.
Overnight, the teams have had to work hard to keep their boats moving, spending most of the night in little or no wind and sailing at speeds more usually found in an Optimist dinghy competition rather than onboard the usually super quick Volvo Open 70.
The boats have been eerily quiet, except for the slatting of sails and the gentle lapping of sea on the carbon-fibre hull, conditions that demand full concentration when trimming the sails or driving the boat, and create plenty of headaches for navigators.
CAMPER’s skipper Chris Nicholson advises that, in these frustrating, drifting conditions, it is vital always to keep the boat moving. Although the Volvo Open 70s are easily able to cover nearly 600 nautical miles in a day, when they stop they are difficult to get moving again. Nicholson says, “Even if you are not going in the direction you want, just keep the boat moving and eventually you will find the direction you need.”
Things improved for the boats in the west very early this morning and patience was rewarded when, at around 0245 GMT this morning, the breeze kicked in for PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Kenny Read/USA). CAMPER also reported that the ‘gas burners’ had been turned on at 0500 and at last the boats are moving again, although it is still upwind sailing.
At 1000 GMT today Telefónica led the field by 3.40 nautical miles ahead of PUMA’s Mar Mostro who has swapped places with Groupama 4 and moved up fleet to stand second. CAMPER is in fourth position, 25 nm adrift of the leader and paying the predicted high price for heading west, but achieving the highest average speed of 14.2 knots.
A pattern of sailing, sleeping and eating is beginning to fall into place after the rigours of the first 36 hours. The mood in the fleet is general good and everyone is settling in now for the long haul to Cape Town. Meanwhile, back in Alicante, Ian Walker and his team from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are making good progress and have stepped their replacement rig. They expect to go sailing today to tune it up and return to the point where they suspended racing sometime tomorrow. The news for Mike Sanderson’s Team Sanya is less promising and the boat is likely to be heading to Cape Town by ship in order to make repairs to the bow section.