Overall race leaders Groupama made a steady climb through the order on the fleet’s first night at sea on Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient, powering their way into third place behind Team Telefónica and PUMA.
At 0500 UTC the French team were just one nautical mile (nm) behind second placed PUMA and within 2.7 nm of leaders Telefónica.
“Right now we’ve got all of the players in play,” said PUMA Media Crew Member (MCM) Amory Ross. “Camper and Groupama are close to leeward, Telefónica even closer to windward. It’s a sight we better get used to, day and night.”
Taking the most northerly track overnight, fourth placed Abu Dhabi were within four nm of the lead with a two nm advantage over fifth placed CAMPER.
CAMPER MCM Hamish Hooper said the boats had been trading fractions of miles back and forth as they reached toward the Azores in close company.
“Overnight the Puma, Groupama and Telefonica edged a few more miles out of us, and we are managing to hang in there with Abu Dhabi,” Hooper said. “The good news is that pretty much all of the boats are still within sight.”
Abu Dhabi MCM Nick Dana said the Emirati team were pleased to hanging on to the three Juan Kouyoumdjian designed boats which excel in these fast reaching conditions.
“The last sched had us losing slight ground on the Juan K boats,” Dana said. “It should be a wicked week of racing in the North Atlantic.”
Having pushed furthest south in the night, sixth placed Team Sanya this morning lay 15 nm behind leaders Telefónica. Sanya MCM Andrés Soriano said their first night at sea had been straightforward:
“We are reaching along with our job up and a full main, averaging 18 – 20 knots of boat speed,” he said. “The boat is going well and we are Aksel is quite happy with where we are positioned.
“Oone thing you can be sure of is that he and Mike will work tirelessly over the duration of the leg to ensure that we are in the perfect position to pounce on one or more of our competition.”