November 20, 2011 - 1500 UTC Leg 1 Day 16|
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM?
Leg 1 Report: 20/11/2011 13:21:10 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 TELE 0.00 0.0 19 2369.2 2 PUMA 29.30 5.4 24 2398.5 3 CMPR 147.50 11.7 22 2516.7 4 GPMA 418.50 9.8 15 2787.7 - ADOR Retired from Leg 1 - SNYA Retired from Leg 1
Volvo Ocean Race leaders Team Telefónica were making final preparations for the heavy weather that lies ahead as the fleet charges into the third week of racing in Leg 1.
Two days after Telefónica snatched the lead from PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, the crew led by Spanish Olympic gold medallist Iker Martínez commanded a narrow 29 nautical mile lead over their rivals on Sunday.
With a wet and wild ride across the bottom of the South Atlantic forecast to rocket them towards the finish line in Cape Town at speeds of 25 knots, Telefónica were making the most of the last of the stable 15-20-knot trade winds, conducting last-minute checks of their Volvo Open 70 before they pick up a cold front later in the week.
“We've been making the most of the weather to repair things that have cropped up over the fourteen days of racing,” said the team’s media crew member Diego Fructuoso. “Pablo (Arrarte) has been checking all the winches, Ñeti (Antonio Cuervas-Mons) has been checking all of the ropes and he has also been up the mast to see how things are doing there. Pepe (Ribes) has been checking out all of the hydraulics, Iker has been looking over the whole boat and Jordi (Calafat) has been making sure all of the sails are in good shape.”
Having sliced another five nm off Telefónica’s lead at the 1300 UTC position report, PUMA MCM Amory Ross said the mood on board Mar Mostro was positive.
“These boats can do 400 to 500 miles a day quite easily in good breeze, so in the immediate sense Telefonica’s lead is very manageable,” he said. “So long as we sail smart, avoid mistakes and force their hand, we feel good about our chances.”
After crossing the Equator in third, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Chris Nicholson promised his team would slowly chip away at the leg leaders -- and at 1300 the gap between them and Telefónica was down to 147 nm. CAMPER were also the second quickest boat in the fleet with an average boat speed of 22 knots over the three hours running up to the latest report.
Navigator Will Oxley said the crew were preparing for the lack of rest that would come when the fleet pick up speed in winds of more than 30 knots.
“We’ve got another 1,200 miles of heading just east of south,” Oxley said. “It’s going to get quite cold quite quickly, the breeze is going to increase, and we’re going to go from having had plenty of sleep to a more sleep-deprived state again.”
Oxley said the way the teams dealt with the new weather system could prove crucial to the overall leg standings.
“Once we’re in heavy air running, the boat will be averaging 25 knots,” he added. “It’s pretty full on and you can easily damage a sail or the boat. If you stop and the other boats are doing 25 knots it’s easy to see how you can catch up 75 miles pretty quickly.”
Fourth-placed Groupama sailing team also gained miles as the fleet compressed, pulling back nine nm on the front runners. The French team, who were still paying for a tactical mistake made early in the 6,500 nautical miles leg from Alicante, Spain, said they were using the time to experiment with how to get the best from their boat.
Helmsman Charles Caudrelier said: “It felt like once we crossed the Equator, we would get to Cape Town soon. But actually the South Atlantic is very long and we will spend three, four, maybe five days on the same tack with almost the same wind and the same wind angle, just trimming the sails. It’s slightly boring but, at the same time, we learn a lot and have time to work on the boat’s trimming.”
November 20, 2011 -1000 UTC Leg One Day 16
DRAG RACE SOUTH
Leg 1 Report: 20/11/2011 10:01:44 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 TELE 0.00 0.0 17 2405.1 2 PUMA 35.10 8.0 18.3 2440.1 3 CMPR 159.70 9.0 17.9 2564.8 4 GPMA 428.60 6.0 15.7 2833.7 - ADOR Retired from Leg 1 - SNYA Retired from Leg 1
South, south, keep heading south. This is what the four boats racing in third week of Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race have to do before they can begin their turn towards Cape Town.
Once around the Saint Helena High, the fleet can look forward to some high speeds and a sleigh ride to within 400 nautical miles of the finish. Temperatures will plummet, albatrosses will be their companions, and the speedo could hit some potentially record-breaking numbers. But, as the fleet continues its drag race south, a thrilling match is playing out between Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP), who currently leads PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) by 35 nautical miles (nm). Both boats are very evenly matched, both designed by race-winning Argentine designer, Juan Kouyoumdjian, and both have had plenty of match practise.
Mike Sanderson (NZL), winner of the race in 2005-06 and skipper of Team Sanya who retired from this leg, said: “If I had to call it right now, I would struggle. It is really hard to pick because they [Telefónica and PUMA] have both been sailed really well. I have always believed from the day dot that PUMA is the complete package, but man, I have been impressed with the way the Telefónica guys have been sailing this leg.”
The crew of Telefónica are happy, but not complacent. “We are at the top of the leaderboard for the leg, but we can’t be too confident,” said Media Crew Member Diego Fructuoso. “Close where we are there is very little wind, so we have to manage the situation well to make sure we don’t become becalmed.”
The crew of PUMA’s Mar Mostro would be very happy if this scenario were to happen. Since Telefónica took the lead, there has been a lot less banter on board the black cat. Both boats are heading into lighter conditions and the crew of PUMA is ‘willing everything they can out of the boat’. They are confident that Telefónica’s lead is manageable and are avoiding obvious weaknesses such as impatience and irrationality. “We’re just trying to stay positive and keep ourselves close so that if (and when) the proverbial door is opened, we can jump through,” said their MCM Amory Ross.
At 1000 UTC Telefónica were averaging 17 knots, while PUMA was the fastest in the fleet at 18.3.
In third position, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) reported a good 24 hours. Navigator Will Oxley explained: “We have another 1100 nm of just east-of-south heading. We are going to go from having plenty of sleep to a far more sleep-deprived state again.” The crew is concentrating on sailing CAMPER as fast as they can (average over three hours is 17.9 knots) in the knowledge that one bad three-hour period and all the hard work gaining miles can be undone in an instant.
Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas/FRA) are still sailing a race of their own. The crew reports that the temperature of the water has cooled, which is making life on board more pleasant. Cammas’ men were making good speed (15.7 knots) and had gained six nm, but trailed the leaders by 428.6 nm.