Fleet closing in on Groupama by stealth
Team Telefónica have jumped to second place and more than halved Groupama sailing team’s lead overnight, as the entire racing fleet vanished into the anti-piracy stealth zone.
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand have also made major gains, edging into third position just 12 nautical miles behind Telefónica, and 34 nm ahead of the now fourth placed PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG.
The position shuffling is expected to continue today as the fleet sail in the Doldrums, where the only reliable thing about the weather is that it is unreliable, light and packed with sudden squalls.
PUMA’s Media Crew Member Amory Ross captured the frustrations of his crew:
“We’ve only been here for one night, but it already feels like a week.”
A split in the fleet is also featuring as a game-changer today. Groupama and PUMA have taken one course, averaging five knots boat speed in five knots of wind, while Telefónica and CAMPER have taken another, and continued to increase speed to about 12 knots and 16 knots respectively.
The challenge of the Doldrums, and sometimes sheer luck needed to negotiate the band of variable low pressure, is exactly what the fleet has been banking on to help them reel in Groupama.
Groupama are feeling the heat reported Media Crew Member Yann Riou.
“In short, we hope that this episode ends as soon as possible, that we get off this area that’s not conducive to sailing and in the same order in which we came to it, if possible,’’ he said.
The gravity of this section of the Leg 2 race to Abu Dhabi is not lost on board CAMPER, with Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper noting a shift in the atmosphere.
“Another intense day in the nav-station, weighing up the pros cons and every other imaginable factor in what could be the biggest call of the whole leg,’’ he said.
“With the decision came instant action, nothing major, just a subtle change of bearing, a slight change of trim, but most importantly the change of focus was no longer ‘which way is best to go’, but ‘that’s the way we are going’ and we are going to sail it as hard and fast as we possibly can.
“We have boats to chase down and we will use every inch of water there is until the finish line to do it.”
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing continue to trail in fifth place, more than 117 nm from the race leader.
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