Newport, Rhode Island – 5 February 2013 – Newport, Rhode Island will host the Volvo Ocean Race for the first time after winning a place on the route for the 12th edition of sailing’s premier round-the-world challenge in 2014-15.
The Race will reach Newport, one of the world’s sailing capitals, around May 2015 after a stop in Itajaí, Brazil. From Newport, the teams will sail across the Atlantic for the final legs around Europe.
The Volvo Ocean Race has visited the United States in every edition since 1989-90 but despite Newport’s great sailing heritage, it has never before had Host Port status.
“I’m delighted to announce that we are bringing the world’s greatest offshore sailing event to one of the world’s great sailing cities,” Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. said at a presentation at Rhode Island State House in Providence.
“It’s about time the Race came to the city of Newport and we are looking forward to a real festival that will delight and inspire sailing fans and those who are new to the sport.”
Rhode Island is known as the Ocean State and for over 50 years Newport was the home of the America’s Cup. The city hosted a hugely successful stop on the America’s Cup World Series in 2012, with 65,000 people visiting over the four-day racing period.
Frostad was joined at the presentation by Rhode Island Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop, Sail Newport executive director Brad Read and other local and state officials. Volvo Ocean Race COO Tom Touber was also at the presentation.
“It gives me great pleasure and pride to welcome the Volvo Ocean Race to beautiful Rhode Island for the first time,” said Governor Chafee. “We have made significant strategic land and marine infrastructure improvements at Fort Adams State Park, paving the way for a new era of racing in Rhode Island and setting the stage for the world-class events we continue to host.
“We had a positive experience with the America’s Cup World Series last summer, and I look forward to welcoming the Volvo Ocean Race to Rhode Island. These large-scale sailing events draw impressive numbers of visitors to our state – visitors who make valuable contributions to our economy.”
Newport, a popular tourist destination, is the sixth Host Port for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 to be revealed so far. The Race will start in Alicante, Spain and visit Recife in north east Brazil. Later in the Race, the teams will race to Auckland in New Zealand before rounding Cape Horn and making a second Brazilian stop in Itajaí and then heading to Newport.
The Race will finish in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The remaining stopovers on the 2014-15 route will be revealed over the coming weeks.
The upcoming edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will start in autumn 2014 and will be the 12th edition of the 40-year-old event, which started in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race.
The next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race will be contested in a new high-performance yacht, the Volvo Ocean 65, designed by Farr Yacht Design in the United States and built by a consortium of boatyards in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Switzerland.
The new 65-foot (19.8-metre) monohull racing yachts will be strictly One Design and delivered “ready to sail”. The boats incorporate the latest video, satellite and content production facilities to further enhance the Onboard Reporter programme that has been in place since 2008-09.
The all-female Team SCA were the first to announce their participation in the 2014-15 edition. Backed by SCA, the global hygiene and forest products company, they will be the first all-women’s team to compete in the race since 2001-02. A team from the state of Pernambuco, Brazil has also been announced.
The previous edition of the Volvo Ocean Race started in October 2011 in Alicante, Spain and was won by Groupama sailing team, skippered by Frenchman Franck Cammas.
The last race took the teams over 39,000 nautical miles (45,000 miles or 72,000 kilometres) and started in Alicante. The route featured stopovers in Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Miami (USA), Lisbon (Portugal) and Lorient (France) before the finish in Galway (Ireland).
The top three teams overall in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 remained locked together in a titanic struggle on Tuesday as the fleet slowed slightly on the way to the only Leg 8 turning mark — São Miguel island in the Azores archipelago.
At 1000 UTC Team Telefónica had nosed back in front of overall race leaders Groupama sailing team, after a night of dead heating for the lead, while within clear sight, in third, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG remained a constant threat to the leading duo.
Groupama navigator Jean-Luc Nélias said the light wind zone stretching as far as São Miguel had slightly thrown the advantage back to Telefónica and compressed the whole fleet over the last 12 hours.
‘’The wind dropped down and we now are in very light winds,” he said. “We are 50 metres away from Telefónica, we can see PUMA and on the horizon we can also see Abu Dhabi and CAMPER.
‘’Our speed advantage over on Telefónica has reduced as the wind got lighter — we were faster yesterday in stronger winds. We managed to equal their speed last night but slowed down a bit today.”
However, by 1300 UTC Groupama were back in the lead pulling out a 2.1 nautical mile (nm) advantage on Telefónica after positioning themselves to the north in a strong position to cover the fleet on the remaining upwind section to São Miguel.
PUMA remained in third, five nm off the lead and three nm ahead of fourth placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand. Four nm back, Abu Dhabi were in fifth, with Team Sanya in sixth, 17 nm off first place.
PUMA skipper Ken Read said the competition for the top three places had been intense since leaving Lisbon on Sunday.
“It is certainly close,” he said. “Groupama and Telefónica are a couple of miles away. It’s all on, that’s for sure.”
Despite the unrelenting pressure, Read said the PUMA crew were treating the penultimate leg like any of the previous seven in this edition of the race.
“To be honest, it’s not affecting the crew,” he said. “We’re doing a completely normal watch system and treating it like any other leg right now. Tom (Addis, navigator) is at the computer and the guys on deck are just doing their job.
“So far the three of us have been glued to each other the entire leg, but hopefully these guys up ahead get caught up with each other and take their eye off us for a little while, we’ll see,” Read said.
Although currently fixated on finding the fastest path through the light airs of the high pressure, the fleet’s navigators are also keeping a wary eye on a potent low pressure system lurking to the north west which could deliver a fast run from the Azores to Lorient if tackled correctly.
“We think this leg is still going to be won or lost on the other side of the island,” Read said. “It’s a question of who can deal with the big breeze best — and who can not break in the mean time.
“It’s going to be a big one and we’ve got to get ready for it,” confirmed Telefónica navigator Andrew Cape. “We have to reach into it to get more wind and the best course to Lorient.”
Needing to beat Groupama by two places to regain the overall lead, Cape said the Telefónica crew know they may have to push harder and take more risks than their French counterparts.
“Certainly the probability of breakages is the same for everybody and no one is going to be the first to take their foot off the pedal,” he said.
“We’re all going to go quite fast and it will be a tight race because no one will want to slow down — although sometimes you might have to.
“It will be a very interesting aspect of this leg: just how much risk will be taken.”
Latest estimates suggest the boats will round the Azores waypoint in the early hours of June 13 on the way to the Leg 8 finish in Lorient, on the Brittany coast of France.
Abu Dhabi shrugged off seven months of frustration to seal their first offshore victory in a nerve-jarring transatlantic leg from Miami to Lisbon, while Groupama’s second place finish — five and a half minutes behind after more than 3,500 nautical miles racing — was enough to take them top of the leaderboard in place of long-term leaders Telefonica.
Groupama spent days snapping at the heels of the Emirati team and were within a mile of their rivals as they headed up the River Tagus towards the finish line.
Ian Walker’s team defended resolutely, however, matching their rivals gybe for gybe to ensure their first podium finish on an offshore leg would also be their first win, and spark wild celebrations lit up by a booming firework display.
For Groupama, the consolation prize came soon enough, as Telefónica’s finish in fourth place — behind PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG in the third podium slot and just ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand — meant the French team climb above them.
Abu Dhabi, who finished at 21:23:54 UTC, received 30 points for victory, with Groupama netting 25 after their finish at 21:29:21. PUMA took 20 points, Telefonica 15 and CAMPER 10.
Team Sanya finished sixth to pick up five points.
Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, now lead Telefónica by three points overall, with the Spanish team dropping off the lead for the first time since their victory on Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town back in November.
Four teams remain separated by just 21 points, making it the closest contest in the 39-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race with just two offshore legs and three in-port races still to come.
The arrival in Lisbon represented a homecoming for Abu Dhabi, who had a training base in nearby Cascais during the build-up to the race.
“It’s incredible — what a welcome,” said Walker, before he and Emirati crew member Adil Khalid were chucked into the water by their team mates.
“Do you think you can make the last 10 miles of a race any harder than that?
“It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career, that’s for sure. Mentally, certainly I’m exhausted. It’s just such a relief.”
Abu Dhabi also visited Lisbon in much less happy circumstances during Leg 1, after a dismasting within the first few hours ultimately forced them to ship the boat from Lisbon to Cape Town.
While they have notched up three victories in in-port races, and have a strong chance of winning the series, this is the first time they have really been able to shine in an offshore leg.
First Groupama and then Telefónica enjoyed the lead for long spells on a leg that started out looking like a fast, direct sprint across the Atlantic before the effects of Tropical Storm Alberto altered things drastically.
One by one, the boats were forced to head ever further north towards the ice exclusion zone.
Abu Dhabi moved into the lead on Day 6 and after briefly surrendering it to CAMPER they were back ahead the following day.
Two days later they were clear, though skipper Ian Walker warned repeatedly that a light-air zone inside the final 300 nautical miles would see the fleet compress.
That’s exactly how it turned out, with Abu Dhabi forced to scrap every step of the way to an emotional victory at the team’s second home.
“It came down to the wire, and we certainly had our ups and downs, but we are very happy,” said Groupama skipper Franck Cammas. “it was a good operation for us!”
Third place for PUMA kept them in contention for the overall lead, 12 points behind new leaders Groupama.
“This is a great result,” said the team’s American skipper Ken Read. “There’s still a lot of points on the board and to be on the podium is a big deal for us.”
The battle between Telefónica and CAMPER for fourth and fifth came down to a slow-motion tussle over an excruciating final few miles, with no breeze and the current against them.
Telefónica eventually finished with an advantage of 102 seconds and less than a boat length for a five-point boost that could yet prove crucial.
The action resumes with the In-Port Race on June 9, followed by the start of Leg 8 to Lorient the following day.
Leg 7 results:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 11d, 04h, 23m, 54s
2. Groupama sailing team – 11d, 04h, 29m, 21s
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG – 11d, 06h, 26m, 52s
4. Team Telefónica – 11d, 08h, 28m, 27s
5. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand – 11d, 08h, 30m, 09s
6. Team Sanya – 11d, 08h, 44m, 25s
Overall Leg 7 Total
1 Groupama sailing team 25 183
2 Team Telefónica 15 180
3 PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG 20 171
4 CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ 10 162
5 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 30 104
6 Team Sanya 5 32
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing launched an 11th hour comeback in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race to take their tally of in-shore successes to three, while Groupama scored a strong second to pile the pressure on overall race leaders Telefónica.
Ian Walker’s crew were rewarded for sailing a near-perfect race on Saturday when they snatched the lead from Groupama on the penultimate leg and went on to seal a dramatic victory.
Although they were pipped at the post, Groupama’s result moves them to within just seven points of Telefónica, who had yet more in-port disappointment when a penalty for touching one of the turning marks relegated them to last place.
In a thrilling finale, PUMA came from behind to rocket past CAMPER into third just metres from the finish line.
It was a fourth successive podium finish in the in-shore series for Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew, and it brought them to within a point of third-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on the overall scoreboard.
Team Sanya, the only team not racing in a new generation boat, were unlucky not to finish higher up the leaderboard, having to settle for fifth after a brave battle with their rivals.
“It feels great,” said a jubilant Abu Dhabi skipper Walker moments after crossing the finish line.
“We’ve had a tough time of it. We had no time at all to prepare for the last in-port race and we made a special point of having two full days’ training here. We wanted to show the world that Abu Dhabi hasn’t given up. We’re a good team, we’re determined, and it feels great to win a race.”
With the Volvo Ocean Race entering a critical stage with just three offshore legs and three in-port races left, just 14 points split the top four boats.
Telefónica still lead with 165 points but snapping at their heels are Groupama on 158, while CAMPER and PUMA are dangerously close on 152 and 151 respectively, bolstered by the results of the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race.
In a nail-biting contest peppered with position changes, Abu Dhabi capitalised on a strong start along with Sanya but it was Telefónica who led round the first mark, showing off their blistering speed on Leg 1.
The action couldn’t have been any more intense with Abu Dhabi and Groupama overhauling Telefónica on Leg 2. Meanwhile, after paying the price for heading offshore, CAMPER and PUMA were left desperately chasing the frontrunners.
While the front two stretched their lead, a fierce battle for third developed, climaxing on Leg 6 with Telefónica hitting the mark and the rest of the fleet piling in behind.
Telefónica were penalised by the on-the-water umpires, adding to their in-port misery and ending their hopes of consolidating their overall lead.
Sniffing a chance to pick up crucial points, PUMA, CAMPER and Sanya put pedal to metal and launched an extraordinary comeback that brought them back in touch with then leaders Groupama and second-placed Abu Dhabi with just a few legs left.
Abu Dhabi’s defining moment came when they hoisted a bigger sail than their French rivals, making the most of the smallest of speed advantages to pass Groupama despite having to dodge a spectator boat.
With the breeze fading, race officials chose to shorten the course and Abu Dhabi hung on to claim the win, all the more sweet due to the fact that just a few weeks ago their stricken boat Azzam was on a container ship en route to Brazil.
The sailors and shore crews are now turning their sights on the final preparations for 3,580 nautical mile Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, starting on Sunday at 1700 UTC (1300 local time).
PORTMIAMI In-Port Race results:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 74:09
2. Groupama sailing team, +00:33
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, +02:02
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, +02:11
5. Team Sanya, +2:35
6. Team Telefónica, +6:28
Ken Read and The PUMA Ocean Racing Powered By BERG team win Leg 6,American skipper Ken Read led his PUMA team to a second consecutive leg win on Wednesday, arriving on home soil in Miami triumphant following an epic 17-day match race with closest rivals CAMPER to confirm they are back in contention for overall victory.
Since the heartbreak of the first leg, in which their yacht Mar Mostro dismasted, PUMA have been on the up – and after scoring their first offshore success in Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí, Brazil, they made it two in two with glory in Leg 6.
After coming off best in an intense battle for first place with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who at one point closed the gap to less than a mile, Read said his team were back in the fight for the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 trophy.
“That was about as stressful as it can get, believe me,” Read said. “It was touch and go, and the guys on CAMPER sailed very well, but I couldn’t be more proud of our team — they did an unbelievably great job.”
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crossed the finish line at 18:14:00 UTC, 17 days after leaving from Itajaí, Brazil, with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand around an hour behind PUMA and on course to take second.
PUMA dominated the 4,800 nautical mile leg from the start, only surrendering the lead on two occasion to CAMPER and for no more than 48 hours.
A fast start to the leg in fresh conditions saw PUMA lead out of Itajaí and into several days of fast sailing up the Brazilian coast.
As winds eased the fleet split into three groups, with CAMPER and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing closest to the shore enjoying two days at the head of the pack, while Team Telefónica and Groupama sailing team opted to head east in search of better breeze. PUMA split the difference and it paid as they got a jump on their rivals that would lay the foundations for their eventual win.
With the south-east trade winds providing near-perfect conditions for the Volvo Open 70s, a drag race began up to the Equator and through the Doldrums, which presented little problem for the fleet. But 10 days into racing, PUMA were nearly undone by storm clouds which stalled the leaders, allowing CAMPER and Telefónica to reel them in to just six miles.
Into the Caribbean Sea they enjoyed fast sailing once more until they hit tricky weather systems that once again saw the leading boats compress. Despite coming under fire from CAMPER right up until the very last minute, faultless sailing saw PUMA defend their lead to claim the win.
It’s the fourth time in six legs that PUMA have finished on the podium, and they pick up an invaluable 30 points for the leg win to take their overall tally to 147.
CAMPER will be awarded 25 points for second place, their best result in the offshore series since Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi when they finished second behind Team Telefónica.
“It’s been a long leg and PUMA have sailed very nicely, they have defended very well, but I think we have attacked well too,” CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson said as his team closed in on the finish line. “I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone. We’re in better shape now for the next leg.”
Both teams will close the gap on overall leaders Telefónica, who were still scrapping it out for the final podium position with Groupama sailing team.
The current ETA for the arrival of Groupama and Telefónica is 0300 UTC, with fifth-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing expected to arrive at 0800 UTC.
A trough of low pressure blocking the fleet’s path brought light winds on Friday and a tactical split in the trio at the front. Leaders PUMA have stuck doggedly to their north easterly course, while CAMPER and Telefónica gybed to the west in search of stronger winds closer to the Caribbean Islands.
By 1200 UTC today Team Telefónica had resumed a northerly track, putting pressure on CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who must decide to follow suit or press on with a higher risk westerly strategy.
With up to 30 hours of slow sailing likely before the leaders break through into steadier winds, the pressure is well and truly on for the skippers and navigators on the top three boats.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG navigator Tom Addis said leading into such a scenario was always tricky as it raised the threat of being caught by the boats behind, but was nevertheless confident in the short term strategy.
“A front has come through to the north and disturbed the trade winds so we’ve all compressed again,” Addis said. “It is unfortunate for us but it’s just how it goes.
“It’s hard to say when the breeze will pick up again. We’ve still got about 10 knots of breeze but it’s going to be a good day and a half before we’re into decent breeze again.
“When the wind goes light and you compress, especially for a good solid day, anything can happen. If someone gets a squall and picks up some wind for a few hours that could easily turn the fleet inside out.
“That makes things more tense on board, no question.”
Addis said PUMA’s current plan was to skirt around the eastern side of the Caribbean to avoid the additional threat of wind shadows in the lee of the island chain.
“The next 1,000 miles is going to be pretty light and tricky and it’s going to be ‘heart in the mouth’ stuff for the majority of the rest of the leg,” he said.
“We think we’ve got a solid plan and most likely we’ll go round the outside of the Caribbean islands,” he said. “Through the Caribbean there’s plenty of water but it’s fraught with lees.
“Those islands are very tall and they create big wind shadows so you’ve got to be very careful going through them.”
On second placed CAMPER, Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper said the mood was equally tense with skipper Chris Nicholson and navigator Will Oxley spending long hours together at the navigation station, deliberating on the best plan.
“It is certain to be a nerve-wracking few days for sure,” Hooper said.
“It has been said from the start that this last 1,000 miles will be where the leg is won and lost, and it’s looking about as tricky as tricky can be, with light fickle breezes throughout.
“It’s a maze. One boat will come out looking famous and it could be one of any of the five boats in the fleet.
“Abu Dhabi and Groupama who are still 100 miles behind are still right in this leg and in fact they are in the sometimes enviable position of having nothing to lose, so able to throw caution to the wind and take a gamble.”
Telefónica navigator Andrew Cape described the final push to the finish as “a bit touch and go”.
“There’s going to be a lot of changes, put it that way,” Cape added. “It’s going to be a tricky one. There’s going to be opportunities both ways but certainly the team that gets it right will be the winner.”
Cape said he was happy with the Spanish team’s positioning at this point but said there would be plenty of other key decisions to agonise over before the finish.
“We’re where we wanted to be, but this is the very first stage of about 25 that we need to get right,” he said.
At 1300 UTC PUMA still led the fleet, from CAMPER in second, Team Telefónica in third, Groupama sailing team in fourth and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in fifth.
Latest estimates show the leading boats arriving in Miami on or around midday on May 9.
Leg 6 leaders PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG have today bought themselves some valuable miles against their closest challengers, Team Telefónica and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, after the chasing duo closed to within two miles yesterday.
PUMA made the best of a move by the top three boats towards the Brazilian coast over the last 24 hours, picking up assistance from northerly currents and a zone of wind acceleration closer to the shore to pull out a lead of 30 nautical miles (nm) at 1000 UTC today over second placed Telefónica.
After spending most of Sunday with their hearts in their mouths watching both CAMPER and Telefónica close them down, the PUMA crew — headed by American skipper Ken Read — saw their speed rocket close to 20 knots after passing the latitude of Fortaleza to the north east of Brazil.
PUMA crossed the Equator at 0840 UTC — their fourth and final crossing of this edition of the race — and must now protect their lead through the Doldrums, a band of fickle breezes located around 100 nm north.
Telefónica and CAMPER both crossed the Equator at 0910 UTC in second and third respectively.
Back in fourth, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crossed the Equator at 1155 UTC having closed to within just over 40 nm of CAMPER despite sailing in different breezes for most of the last few days.
Skipper Ian Walker said that with around 100 nm to run to the Doldrums the Emirati team were preparing themselves “for a bit of action later today.”
“It’s been a difficult day or two,” Walker said. “We just generally seem to be sailing in less wind than everyone else.
“We made quite a nice gain towards the end of yesterday on CAMPER and Telefónica so we’re just trying to hang on to them as best we can and hope something opens up.”
Walker said he hoped to be able to make further gains to get within striking distance of the leaders later in the leg when the fleet will engage in a 1,000 nm trade wind drag race to the Caribbean.
“Generally we’re losing a couple of miles per sked but then we’re always in a lot less wind. Hopefully we’ll have made up that distance in the next few days,” he said.
With any Doldrums crossing generally throwing up opportunities for the boats playing catch up, Walker said he was hopeful of making gains on the leaders soon after the Equator.
“All we have to go on is models and satellite pictures which might not necessarily tell the right story,” Walker said. “It’s still the Doldrums, there could still be a period of the boats slowing down and a lot of storm activity depending on what time of the day you get there.
“I’m sure something’s going to happen but relative to the Doldrums we’ve seen in the race so far it looks reasonably inactive. Maybe we’ll just sail straight through and hook into the north east trades and be off.
“We’ve got to prepare for anything,” Walker said.
At 1300 UTC today PUMA’s lead was 31 nm over second placed Team Telefónica who were 9 nm ahead of CAMPER in third.
Abu Dhabi remained in fourth 48 nm behind CAMPER with Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team in fifth, 142 nm off the lead.
The leading boats are expected to complete Leg 6 from Itajaí to Miami on or around May 9.
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 PUMA 0.00 0 19.2 2612.1
2 TELE 30.70 1 19.6 2642.8
3 CMPR 39.70 4 18.1 2651.8
4 ADOR 86.50 10 15.8 2698.6
5 GPMA 141.70 14 14.6 2753.7
- SNYA Did Not Start
Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Sunrise onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Bowman Zane Gills adjusting the sail, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
Full crew weight aft in a tight battle with Team Telefonica, onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG were still enjoying a 15-mile buffer over their rivals as they neared the northeast corner of Brazil, but overall race leaders Team Telefónica currently in third, were starting to show signs of recovery as they began to find their pace.
Under the guidance of Spanish Olympian Iker Martínez and expert navigator Andrew Cape, Telefónica scythed 11 miles off the pacesetters in the past 12 hours.
“Right now we’re just going fast compared to yesterday,” Cape said. “There are some long miles to clear the land, and some long miles before the West Indies, so there’s a lot of sailing to do. We’re going to turn up the heat and win the race.”
Telefónica, who top the overall standings by 16 points, have been playing catch-up after their plan to position themselves east of the fleet failed to pay off and they were left in fourth place just ahead of Groupama sailing team.
Since then Telefónica have overhauled Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to jump up to third and at 1300 UTC on Friday they were the fastest boat in the fleet, trailing second-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand by 13 miles.
Cape, who has seen his team to three offshore leg wins so far, said the crew were confident of a comeback.
“There may still be a drag race in those sort of conditions we’re pretty good,” he added. “There’s a long way to go, and we can do it.”
The same could not be said for French team Groupama who have struggled to find their feet, now 104 miles behind PUMA with little chance of making up ground in the immediate future.
“We’re not in the position in the fleet that we’d like to be in,” Groupama bowman Brad Marsh said. “We’ve had a tough 48 hours trying to work out what the wind is going to do.”
Despite their current deficit, Marsh said the leg was far from decided with more than 3,500 miles left to sail to the finish in Miami.
“We’ve fallen back behind the fleet a little bit but there’s still lots more chances to catch up on this leg,” he added. “The fat lady hasn’t sung just yet, and I don’t think she knows what song she’s going to sing.
“We’ll just keep pushing away, try to stay as close as possible to the boats in front and hopefully get an opportunity to catch up.”
Although into the favourable and more consistent trade winds, the teams have not seen the blistering speeds they had hoped for due to the effects of a low pressure system in the South Atlantic.
Once past Recife on the northeast tip of Brazil, expected to happen tomorrow, speeds will increase as the wind strength intensifies.
On second-placed CAMPER, the crew’s focus was directed fully at whittling down PUMA’s lead.
“We’re set up pretty nicely so hopefully we can make some gains on PUMA,” helmsman Tony Rae said. “They’re going to get round the corner of Brazil ahead of us but hopefully we can chip away and drag them back in.”
The current ETA for the leading boat into Miami is May 8.
1 PUMA 0.00 0 12.9 3555.5
2 CMPR 14.70 2 13 3570.2
3 TELE 27.80 5 13.8 3583.3
4 ADOR 42.80 3 13.4 3598.3
5 GPMA 104.10 1 11.7 3659.5
- SNYA Did Not Start