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
It was crunch time for the Volvo Ocean Race crews on Wednesday as they prepared to punch through a weather front that stands between them and the sought-after trade winds that will catapult them towards Miami.
Whichever team best navigates the light winds of the cold front and reaches the trades first will hold a huge advantage over their rivals as they rocket north at speeds of more than 20 knots — and any losses made over the initial days of Leg 6 will become brutally clear.
After overhauling CAMPER and Abu Dhabi as they struggled in lighter airs overnight, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG looked strongest as the fleet approached the front currently blocking their path.
But with Telefónica and Groupama shaving miles off the leaders from their more offshore position, the pressure was on to get through as quickly as possible without losing miles to any other team.
“Today’s the big day really,” said PUMA navigator Tom Addis. “The first boat into the trades has a pretty major advantage — you can extend for quite a long time and be quite hard to catch.
“This is the critical one. Some points on some race tracks aren’t critical, but this one is critical.”
With the front around 60 miles ahead, the teams were ploughing all their resources into working out the best line to take through its light, fluky winds.
“I spent a lot of last night working on our approach for this stuff,” Addis added. “We’re happy with our position and if we’re in the lead our chances [of reaching the trades first] are something more than 50 per cent.
“But we’re leading into some light stuff and there will be some pressure from behind so we’ll just try and do the best we can and be the first one out. It’s important to be the first one out.”
Meanwhile, Franck Cammas’ men on fifth-placed Groupama sailing team were doing their best to hang on to Telefónica in conditions that seemed to favour the overall race leaders.
“We are more used to being the hunted rather than the hunters,” said Groupama navigator Jean-Luc Nélias. “In general, we’ve been on the same option as Telefónica and they’ve always been a bit faster than us.
“We’re investigating — we’re looking below the hull, we’re looking at the daggerboards, checking if there is some seaweed or plastic stuck on them, but the conclusion right now is that we are a bit behind.”
However with the cold front transition zone immanent, Nélias said there were plenty of opportunities to pass their rivals up ahead.
“It’s a bit like the Doldrums,” he added. “It’s so hazardous and complicated that it’s not always the first to enter it who leaves it first.”
Volvo Ocean Race chief meteorologist Gonzalo Infante said the cold front was narrower in the east, ahead of Telefónica and Groupama, and wider in the west in front of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
“All the hard work of the first four days comes down to this,” Infante said. “It’s a super critical moment. The teams have an opportunity to capitalise on their position by entering the trades first.”
The dilemma could force CAMPER and Abu Dhabi to head offshore from their current positions around 90 miles off the coast of Brazil, costing them precious miles.
CAMPER were dealt a blow overnight when a rope securing the foresail to the bow of their yacht snapped.
“Luckily everyone was ok and time wise it probably only cost us a minute or two so we are very fortunate,” said skipper Chris Nicholson.
On board Abu Dhabi, the crew were preparing for the demanding day ahead as they closed in on their rivals.
“Things remain tight with CAMPER and we are slowly converging with the Juan K boats,” helmsman Rob Greenhalgh said. “There are a few lightning storms up ahead, so it looks like we are approaching the frontal line. It should be an interesting next 24 hours.”
The first boats are expected to cross the Leg 6 finish line in Miami around May 7.
25/04/2012 13:03:02 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 PUMA 0.00 0 10.8 4035.8
2 CMPR 5.70 2 13.4 4041.4
3 ADOR 12.10 1 13.3 4047.9
4 TELE 21.10 0 13.3 4056.9
5 GPMA 37.90 5 13.8 4073.7
- SNYA Did Not Start
A confused start and a mistake by the Spanish leader marked this sixth In-Port race in Brazil! And despite pressure from the New Zealanders, Franck Cammas and his men controlled the course with flawless assurance… An extremely encouraging result just days after the installation of a new mast and above all a few extra steps closer to first place in the overall standing for Groupama 4.
The weather was stormy and unstable as the Volvo Ocean Race fired up again with the In-Port race off the port of Itajai (Brazil). In rain of varying degrees of intensity, the kick-off was given just a few minutes later than scheduled so as to enable a moderate southerly breeze to move in. The scenario involved around ten knots of breeze and little visibility beneath the squalls, but a very pleasant temperature for racing.
A penalty for the Americans
The start was very untidy: the Americans barged their way through at the Committee boat end, failing to respond to Abu Dhabi’s luff, they in turn having to leave room for Groupama 4, which was powered up in this phase of the course. As such Puma were dealt a 360 degree penalty. However, the damage was done as Franck Cammas and his men found themselves to leeward of Puma and Abu Dhabi, whilst the New Zealanders made the most of this bottleneck to get past everyone to windward. Indeed the start was carried out under spinnaker and getting the upper hand in the initial metres was essential.
Meantime, everyone had forgotten about the Spanish, who got a clear ride to leeward of the start line and when they came in to gybe onto the first course mark, Telefonica on top of Camper and was able to get past by taking their wind. This resulting stalling by the New Zealanders also enabled the Emirati boat and the French boat to take up root on their stern at the first mark, as the breeze was tending to ease. The whole fleet remained bunched, because even the Americans were still in the match thanks to the weakening breeze.
The short beat towards the following mark favoured a position to windward of any rivals and once again the Spanish made the best of the edge they had and were first to hunt down mark 2. Groupama 4 made the most of this manoeuvre to cover the New Zealanders thanks to a perfect change of tack on their bow! Franck Cammas thus snatched second place behind Telefonica as they were about to begin a long reaching leg, still in around ten knots of breeze.
A fatal error!
The surprise came when the Spanish leaders began to make for the wrong mark under spinnaker, whilst the rest of the fleet continued along on a reach! Groupama 4 moved up into the lead at that point and made a dive towards the next mark under spinnaker. The hierarchy appeared favourable with Camper conceding a few metres, Puma and Abu Dhabi around a hundred metres further back… and Telefonica a leg down. As they rounded the leeward mark, the breeze fell away to less than six knots and the beat was shaping up to be extremely tense. Groupama 4 benefited from a good wind shift whilst Camper, forced to get clear of the dirty air left by the French boat’s sails, headed off to the wrong side of the racecourse.
Remaining focused in this fluky breeze wasn’t easy, but Groupama 4′s tactician, Laurent Pagès, perfectly controlled the New Zealanders, preventing them from taking the initiative as the Kiwi boat was at ease in these light upwind conditions. The battle behind them was just as fierce between Abu Dhabi and Puma, though the Emirati boat didn’t manage to overtake the American boat which, in turn, was putting pressure on Camper! By that stage, all Franck Cammas and his men had to do was to put in one last gybe before the finish line. Groupama 4 went on to win her first In-Port race with a 48-second lead over Camper and 1’05 ahead of Puma. Most importantly the French team secured some very important points for the final standing since the Spanish leaders finished last…
Quotes from the boat
Laurent Pagès, tactician on Groupama 4:
“It was an intense race! Added to that, we got a surprise at the start because the south-easterly wind kicked back in very quickly: we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare ourselves and visualise the right place on the start line correctly. However, we weren’t far off performing a very good start in contact with the other boats. After that you had to remain lucid as regards what the wind was doing, as it was oscillating a fair bit, and we had to make sure we didn’t fluff the manoeuvre. We were lucky to be in a position to benefit from the mistake made by Telefonica as they were leading the race at that point. Obviously the direction they were taking threw our crew into doubt but the answer came very simply thanks to Charles Caudrelier. We noted that we were making fast headway upwind and we were always striving to stick to the inside track to round the marks. We ended up by securing a win, but above all gained four points on the Spanish leader in the overall standing! It’s important for the results in Galway… However, it’s also a psychological bonus: we’ve kept up this dynamic since Abu Dhabi so we just have to continue in the same vein.”
Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama 4:
“It’s a great surprise: we weren’t expecting to be in front in this type of race. We were lucky, but we’ve also made a lot of progress in this format. Added to that, luck smiles on the daring: we were in the thick of the action from the first course mark. We were at ease in all the phases of the game, with a new genoa which gave us good speed upwind. We’ve also got a better handle on these close-contact races now, which is enabling us to build up our game without having to worry too much about our rivals. Even under spinnaker we found some deeper angles without having to follow the other boats. Winning an In-Port race after a dismasting is obviously a point in our favour, even though there’s nothing like the final offshore exercise to really test our reliability. And it’s good for morale too…”
Standing in the In-Port race in Itajai:
1-Groupama 4 in 46’27 = 6 points
2-Camper 48” astern = 5 points
3-Puma 1’05 astern = 4 points
4-Abu Dhabi 1’33 astern = 3 points
5-Telefonica 5’40 astern = 2 points
DNS-Sanya = 0 point
Overall standing after five offshore legs and six In-Port races:
1-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) : 1+30+6+29+2+27+6+20+1+25+2 = 149 points
2-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) : 2+20+2+18+5+24+2+30+4+20+6 = 133 points
3-Camper (Chris Nicholson) : 4+25+5+24+4+18+3+15+6+15+5 = 124 points
4-Puma (Ken Read) : 5+0+4+19+3+17+5+25+5+30+4 = 117 points
5-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) : 6+0+3+10+6+14+4+10+2+0+3 = 58 points
6-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) : 3+0+1+5+2+5+1+5+3+0+0 = 25 points
PUMA held firm in the face of a relentless attack from Telefónica to clinch an epic Leg 5 victory on Friday, crossing the finish line in Itajaí, Brazil with a winning margin of just 12 minutes after the Spanish team had threatened to complete one of the great sporting comebacks.
After more then 7,500 nautical miles of racing from Auckland, starting with a first-night battering as bad as any in the race’s history and on through brutal conditions in the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn, PUMA’s Mar Mostro finished in brilliant sunshine at 19:09:51 UTC.
Telefónica, who had been a constant threat to them, followed her in at 19:22:29 UTC for a second place that strengthens their position as overall leaders with five of nine offshore legs now complete.
Both boats were roared home by dozens of spectator boats and thousands of fans lining every possible viewing position on the way in.
It was an extraordinary finish to the battle for first place in a leg that saw five of the six boats forced to stop for repairs.
Telefónica were 400 nm behind the leaders when they resumed racing following a pit stop to work on structural damage to their boat. They quickly began to reduce that gap and when Groupama sailing team were forced out following a dismasting they were suddenly in a two-way battle for first.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG score 30 points for their win, taking their total to 113 points. It means they are just 34 points behind overall leaders Team Telefónica, despite having been forced to retire from Leg 1 because of a broken mast.
Groupama will reduce the Telefónica lead to 20 points if they complete the leg in third place under jury rig, as planned.
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, currently carrying out repairs in Puerto Montt in Chile, can get back to within 28 points if they complete the leg in fourth.
As it became clear that PUMA were doing enough to hold off Telefónica, the team’s Media Crew Member Amory Ross handed out chocolate treats to the crew, before skipper Ken Read took back the helm to take his team over the finish line.
“We’ve never seen such an amazing welcome,” said an overwhelmed looking Read, who took time to sympathise with his five rivals and their problems over the course of the leg.
“I’ve never done such a tough offshore leg in my life. It’s been pretty intense. Our hearts go out to the crews who have suffered damage. We know what that’s like and it’s even worse when it’s in a place like the Southern Ocean.”
Telefónica had been written off after suspending racing for 17 hours for structural repairs inside the Cabo de Hornos National Park on March 31. The team resumed racing at 2133 that same day, more than 400 nm behind the leaders.
Nevertheless, a powerful South Atlantic front that rose from the south propelled Telefónica to within striking range of PUMA within days. Anxiety levels were rising on board PUMA, even after Groupama’s dismasting on April 4, but Read’s men were able to steel their nerves in a long match-race to the finish line for their first leg victory in this edition.
PUMA have had a steady rise since the devastating blow of their broken mast on Leg 1. In the past four scoring events PUMA have finished second three times and now first, with real momentum with the American-based team as they head towards Leg 6 to Miami in the United States.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will ship their boat to Itajaí for Leg 6, while Sanya will rejoin the race in Miami after losing a rudder while leading earlier on Leg 5.
06/04/2012 19:48:37 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 PUMA FIN 019d 18h 09m 50s
2 TELE FIN 019d 18h 22m 29s
- CAMP Suspended Racing
- GPMA Suspended Racing
- ADOR Did Not Finish
- SNYA Did Not Finish
It was at around 1500 UTC today that Franck Cammas announced to his shore crew that Groupama 4 had dismasted 60 miles offshore of the coast of Uruguay, whilst leading the fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
When the incident happened, Groupama 4 was sailing upwind on port tack in a northerly wind of around twenty knots.
The mast broke level with the first spreader (around ten metres above the deck).
When the spar fell, bowman Brad Marsh suffered a slight injury to his forearm.
Franck Cammas indicated that he wasn’t requesting assistance and that he’d temporarily suspended racing.
Two options are being studied:
1/ To continue the race under jury rig towards Itajai, the finish venue, some 650 nautical miles ahead.
2/ To make for Punta del Este, wait for the new mast (stored in Rotterdam), rig it and then head back into the race from the point where they suspended racing (at 1500 UTC) to make for Itajai.
Further information will be communicated as soon as possible.
CEO of Volvo Ocean Race Expresses Concern Over Breakages.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad issued a statement on Wednesday expressing his concern at the continuing instances of boats suffering serious damage in the 2011-12 edition.
Frostad, who competed in the race four times himself, said it was not acceptable to have so many incidents of boats failing in a Volvo Ocean Race. Frostad said race organisers would continue to do everything possible to get the boats not currently sailing back in the race as soon as possible.
Text of statement, which was released after Groupama sailing team announced they had suffered a broken mast, leaving only two boats currently racing in Leg 5 from Auckland in New Zealand to Itajaí in Brazil:
“It’s too early to conclude exactly why this has happened but we are obviously concerned about seeing so many incidents of damage to our boats both in this leg and in the race as a whole.
“It is not acceptable that in a race like this we have so many failures. It is not unusual for boats to suffer problems, and sailors and shore teams are used to having to deal with some issues with their boats, but this has been on a bigger scale than in the past.
“It’s important that we don’t leap to any conclusions about why these breakages have happened. Some of them are clearly not related. However, we will take the current issues into account as we make decisions on rules and technology we will be using in the future.
“We have already put in a lot of work, discussing with teams, designers and all other stakeholders about the boats and the rules we will use in the future, and we expect to be in a position to announce a decision on that before the end of the current race.
“For the time being, our focus continues to be on the safety of the sailors. We are doing everything we can to help Groupama, and the rest of the teams not currently sailing, get back in the race as soon as possible.”
Sign, cigars and a bottle of rum are a must when rounding Cape Horn.
As any sailing fan with a pulse probably knows by now, we rounded Cape Horn yesterday. The unofficial end to an epic Southern Ocean leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. It is unreal that only two of the six that started this leg will get to the Horn at close to 100% speed. I guess that when all start an Iron Man race not all expect to finish or even get there at near full capacity, so it shouldn’t be a shock. This has been our ultimate Iron Man.
It would be too easy to glow poetically about what it means to go around Cape Horn – for me the second time. Instead, I will describe the scene on board as it happened. Kind of like a first timers’ equator crossing, there is a ritual and for very good reason. It is a time to be proud and happy and relieved. The feeling of “we have escaped” is prominent. The hardened and the rookies share this feeling. It is a feeling that sticks with you forever. It is a time to take an hour break from the race and just appreciate the accomplishment that few others share. A wonderful time.
First things first. There has to be a team photo and there has to be a sign commemorating the date and place that the photo is taken. This was a huge topic of debate for days leading to the horn. “Do we have a sign yet?” “Where is the sign?” “Who is doing the sign?”
I got the sign. Written on the paper chart of Cape Horn. I kind of like the meaning, and the awesome nature of the area. The Drake Passage between Antarctica and the southern most tip of the world. The sign…done. Stop bugging me. We have a sign already!
Next are the necessities. “Who brought the libations?” “Did anyone bring alcohol for the Horn?” “Oh no, we forgot liquor for the Horn?!?”
Boys, boys, we have libations for the Horn. Do you think I was born yesterday? Now if the bottle didn’t break, we are in business.
Finally the cigars. I still have a photo in my house of Jerry Kirby and me rounding the Horn last race, sitting in the hatch with big dumb smiles on our faces both smoking cigars. It means a lot to me, that photo. Cigars were going to be back, and I told my wife Kathy to search Auckland for some good cigars and she did just that. Don’t want to know what a box of 11 Cubans cost these days but it sure was worth it. Even if it was tough to keep them lit in the freezing rain as we passed.
And finally, the photo. The one that you will have in your office or living room forever. Make sure Rosco (Amory Ross) is in it, and of course our media man came equipped for exactly this situation with a flexible tripod that he could wrap around the grinder pedestal. No photo would be right without all 11 guys.
So, just with the rock about 3 miles abeam, which is very rare – passing so close – the rum was passed, the cigars were lit and the photo was taken. Eleven amazingly close human beings exchanging hand shakes and silent smiles. Amazing what a silent smile can really say. The photo that will last forever. Something to be proud of, something that is part of each of our own little life history.
“Remember the day we rounded Cape Horn?”
That phrase will live in infamy for the 11 guys on board this yacht.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG
Franck Cammas and his men rounded Cape Horn this Friday at 1255 UTC and are leading this fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. They still have 1,700 miles to go before they reach Brazil and the Americans are putting increasing pressure on them as Puma is just an hour astern of Groupama 4.
“Puma is now our most dangerous rival so we’re sailing according to what she does. For the overall ranking it would be good to keep the Americans astern of us into Itajai, but I think Telefonica will be able to hang onto third place in this leg. Ken Read and his crew aren’t making many mistakes and they’ve negotiated the South Pacific very well. It’s certainly going to be a fine race to Brazil! We’ll have to make sure we don’t fall asleep on the job…” stated Franck Cammas before Cape Horn.
Indeed the Americans made up a vast amount of their deficit last night due to the series of gybes Groupama 4 had to link together to adapt to the north-westerly wind shift. Puma was able to benefit from a more gradual shift to gain nearly forty miles in one night and the two boats were close to each other as they rounded Cape Horn, early this Friday afternoon: Franck Cammas and his men caught a brief glimpse of the legendary rock at 1400 hours, followed an hour later by Ken Read and his crew. This island to the extreme South marks a radical change, not just in terms of the sea state and the cold, which has reigned over recent days, but also the degree of intensity of this leg, which has transformed into a Franco-American duel. However, the weather situation after Drake’s Passage isn’t the easiest to understand…
In fact the solid twenty knots or so of north-westerly wind, which was blowing as they rounded the legendary rock, will ease considerably offshore of Isla de Los Estados. Added to that, the warm front which generated the mist at daybreak this Friday, will give way to less cloudy skies. It would seem that two major options are possible for the climb up to Brazil: a route along the Argentinean coast in a moderate westerly air flow with the emergence of a mini depression to the North of the Falklands, or a more easterly trajectory, leaving the Falklands to port so as to distance themselves from the influence of the Andes cordillera and skirt around the outside of this barometric minimum. However, what’s vital in all this is their positioning around Rio de la Plata in three days’ time, as a zone of high pressure is blocking the way to Brazil. For the French, the decision about which way to go will also depend on how the Americans react to the situation…
The Cape of Good Deliverance
“For over ten days, it’s been very full-on physically, with some very big waves pushed along by a big southerly swell, with some strong winds and speeds which reached thirty knots at times in the troughs… The proximity of Puma would seem to suggest that the coming week isn’t going to be exactly restful! We can feel our rival breathing down our necks and clearly they don’t want to get left behind after Cape Horn… We’ll respond to them by showing that we’re capable of taking up a challenge and going faster than them. There’s some psychological game playing here and it’s revived with each new position report every three hours. Up till now, we’ve been dealing with the Southern Ocean at our own pace, but now, as we make Cape Horn, we’re getting back into race mode with all the fatigue that we’ve accumulated. This is the point I call “the Cape of good deliverance”: this is where the race really begins! It’s an imposing rock and it always gives me a special emotion” commented Thomas Coville, before rounding Cape Horn for the ninth time.
In this way, the first of the next 36 hours will see them make fairly quick headway towards the North-East and the crew of Groupama 4 will very quickly latch onto some less extreme weather conditions: the seas are likely to be smoother and the cold decreasingly harsh, but the wind may well be more fickle. The ETA in Itajai currently stands between the evening of Wednesday 4 April (local time) and noon on Thursday…
Standing for the 5th leg from Auckland – Itajai 30 March 2012, 1300 UTC
1. Groupama 1,920.3 miles from the finish
2. Puma 16.3 miles astern of the leader
3. Telefonica 303.3 miles astern of the leader
4. Camper 1,347.6 miles astern of the leader
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 1,696.8 miles astern of the leader
6. Sanya DNF.