May 2, 2012
PUMA CLINGS ON IN CLOSEST OF MATCHES
For the second night running, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) have clung on to the Leg 6 lead in the tightest of matches, holding off CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) and Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP). At 0700 GMT today, the margin from second-placed CAMPER was 1.2 nautical miles (nm).
“We have been locked in a three way battle to leave the Doldrums and enter the trades,” explained CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson. “PUMA, Telefónica and ourselves are virtually lined up across 15 miles of ocean, racing to get into the trades first and benefit from a small jump on the other two boats.”
The leading three have made a relatively painless transition through the Doldrums, but without the anticipated priceless jump to which Nicholson referred. In the period 0400 to 0700 GMT, CAMPER had dropped just 1.20 nm and Telefónica two miles, much less of a bonus for leading team PUMA, who were hoping to rebuild their leading margin. Although not clinging to PUMA’s coat tails, both CAMPER and Telefónica have kept a tight lateral separation and exited the Doldrums at the same time. They are now engaging in a battle, which will be about boat speed alone.
Meanwhile, fifth-placed Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA), who have struggled throughout Leg 6, entered the Doldrums at back of the fleet, a new experience for the French team.
“It is obviously a mental battle when for the first half of the leg you are behind so much, but as a team we have been keeping strong and on deck we have been motivated. We realise that there are still a lot of chances as we head up through the Caribbean,” said bowman Brad Marsh.
As the leaders compressed, both Groupama and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) were able to knock miles of their deficit. Added to the pleasure of being closer to the leading pack, Groupama also has Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to spar with. Both boats are now inside 100 nm from PUMA; Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 90.9 nm in deficit, followed by Groupama four miles astern.
Now, as the leaders race in the steady northeast trade winds, with boat speeds in the 20s, it will be a quick passage up to the Windward Islands. However, as they approach the Caribbean string, the wind will shift slightly to the southeast, pushing the fleet to the east and banishing any opportunities of sailing between the islands.
May 3, 2012
A THREE-WAY TUSSLE AT BLISTERING SPEED
It was a case of enjoy the good times while they last on Thursday, with the Volvo Ocean Race teams revelling in boat speeds of up to 30 knots as light winds up ahead threatened to bring the rapid progress of the past few days to a grinding halt.
PUMA continued to resist attempts from CAMPER and Telefónica to usurp them from their position at the top of the Leg 6 leaderboard, but with more than 1,500 nautical miles still to sail in the race to Miami a second successive leg win was far from secure.
Just five nm split Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG from closest rivals CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand at 1300 UTC with Telefónica around 18 miles back.
Despite the light and tricky weather conditions forecast for the coming days, CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson said his team had no plans on relinquishing pressure on the frontrunners.
“When we look back through the race, whenever it’s been light and tricky we have fared pretty well,” he said. “We’re going to end up with an area of breeze where a certain amount of luck will come into play and we’re prepared for that.
“We’ve been able to stay pretty strong this whole leg so far. Some conditions have suited us, some haven’t, yet we’re still here. We’re not going anywhere. We’re planning on being here right to the death on this one.”
Volvo Ocean Race chief meteorologist Gonzalo Infante said chasers Groupama sailing team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing would both gain significant miles on their rivals in the next 24 hours as they hold the better breeze for longer.
“The trend of the leaders making gains which we have seen over the last few days is going to be reversed as the front teams hit the lighter airs,” he said. “There are still plenty of opportunities ahead.”
Having overhauled Abu Dhabi to move into fourth place, Groupama were considering calculated risks in an attempt to catch their rivals around 100 miles ahead.
However skipper Franck Cammas said his crew had to be mindful not to risk all and gain nothing.
“We have got to be careful not to burn ourselves by going for an extreme option, “ he said. “If we pick an option we have to believe in it, not just give it all away.
“We do hope though that the best option will also be the more extreme one – it could be the chance we need.”
Although frustrated by their slip into fifth, Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi were looking ahead to potential chances that could come as the leaders slow in the light breezes.
“We have got an inside lane at the moment and the breeze is due to drop quite significantly up ahead,” bowman Justin Slattery said.
“I think there will definitely be opportunities to close down on the opposition and hopefully come in at them from behind over the next two or three days.
“We are quite optimistic of getting a chance to get back into the game here and we will just see how it pans out over the next few days with Groupama.”
The latest ETA for the leading boats is May 9.
May 7, 2012
GROUPAMA FIGHTBACK SETS UP NERVE-JANGLING FINALE
Nerves were jangling louder than ever on Monday as Groupama hauled back Telefónica to take over third place on Leg 6 in a move that threatened to throw the overall race wide open.
At the front, PUMA's long-held lead on the leg from Itajaí to Miami was under increasing threat from resurgent CAMPER as the teams plotted their routes through the Bahamas, trying to avoid windless areas over a tortuous final 450 nautical miles.
It will be a nail-biting final 48 hours for all concerned, with the two separate battles likely to have huge consequences on the overall race situation.
“It’s closer than ever,” said PUMA navigator Tom Addis as CAMPER appeared over the horizon for the first time in several days.
At 1300 UTC on Monday, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG were eight miles ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand with around 250 nm to go to the final waypoint at the island of Eleuthera.
A second successive leg win for Ken Read's in-form PUMA would move them within reach of overall leaders Telefónica, second-placed CAMPER and third-placed Groupama on the overall scoreboard -- but victory is far from assured.
As it currently stands, Team Telefónica lead overall by 16 points from Groupama sailing team. CAMPER are nine points further back and PUMA are a total of 32 points off the pace.
The winners of each of the remaining four offshore legs will pick up 30 points, with 25 for second, 20 for third and so on down to five points for sixth. The four remaining in-port races deliver six points for the winners, with five for second, four for third down to one point for sixth.
Telefónica's primary goal on Leg 6 into Miami is to finish ahead of Groupama to extend that lead over their closest challengers but they have a lot of work to do if they are to achieve that, with Groupama's decision to dive west inside the Turks and Caicos Islands easing them just ahead of their rivals by the 1000 UTC position report on Monday.
By 1300 UTC, Groupama had extended their lead over Telefónica to 11 nm.
“This option is a bit risky, as we’re moving away from the normal route, but it could also be very valuable,” said Groupama helmsman Charles Caudrelier. “The leaders could get stuck in no wind and this could be our chance to catch up.”
Their speedy comeback has sent shivers down the spines of overall leaders Telefónica, who were desperately trying to get back up to speed after being snared by a wind hole to the east of the fleet.
“Things haven't gone how we wanted them to and we're becalmed, watching the boats we've been scrapping with for so long get away from us,” said Telefónica media crew member Diego Fructuoso.
“On top of that, the boats behind us are getting closer without us being able to do anything about it.
“It's not fair that this happens after so much time and effort but that's what sailing is like and above all races like this. We're still confident in being able to recover but right now there's nothing we can do.”
In the battle for first, spirits were high on CAMPER as they eyed up a real chance to catch PUMA in the light winds that lie between them and the finish.
“We are slowly closing down PUMA who got away a bit in a nasty cloud last night, but we are clawing back those miles now,” said navigator Will Oxley.
“It’s going to take a long time to get to Miami but hopefully we can get there first.”
Fifth-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were back within 100 miles of the leaders at 1300 UTC, opting not to follow Groupama on their westerly route.
“It is certainly more fun separating from Groupama than following in their wake,” skipper Ian Walker said.
“The fleet is compressing as the leaders sail into light winds first which should add to the drama as the leg finish approaches.”
The first boats are expected to arrive in Miami around 1200 UTC on Wednesday, May 9.
May 9, 2012
AMERICA'S READ GUIDES PUMA TO STUNNING MIAMI VICTORY
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.
Last edited by mpowlison; 05-10-2012 at 09:08 AM.
May 10, 2012
ABU DHABI CLOSE OUT FIFTH IN MIAMI AFTER SUFFERING FOR SPEED ON LEG 6
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing this morning closed out fifth place on Leg 6 from Itajaí, Brazil to the USA, arriving under a moonlit sky just before dawn in Miami, Florida.
Abu Dhabi crossed the Leg 6 finish line at 08:57:37 UTC on Thursday after 17 days, 15 hours and 57 minutes and 37 seconds of racing.
Skipper Ian Walker said a general lack of speed had led to the fifth place result, seven hours and 51 minutes behind fourth placed Team Telefónica.
Yesterday afternoon, American skipper Ken Read brought PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG into Miami in first place -- their second consecutive leg win of the race -- ahead of second placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson.
Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team took third, after edging overall race leaders Team Telefónica, skippered by Iker Martínez, into fourth.
Walker said the Abu Dhabi crew were disappointed to be last into Miami after previously losing out to Groupama sailing team in a nip and tuck battle for fourth on the approach to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Walker admitted that a lack of raw boat speed had made it difficult for Abu Dhabi to be competitive, but said the whole crew had never let their heads drop at any point during the leg.
“This is not what any one of us is here for, but we know how tough this fleet is and we just don’t seem to have the legs at the moment to hang with the other boats and that’s making life very difficult for us,’’ Walker said.
“I’m proud of the guys, how everyone has dug in and kept fighting till the end and after 16, 17 days sailing we’re just a handful of hours behind Telefónica and Groupama.”
Walker said being unable to keep up with the other boats had put continual pressure on navigator Jules Salter and himself to find ways to get the team back in contention.
“It’s just been a tale of bleeding miles,’’ he said. “The fleet spent a lot of time in similar wind, sailing the trade winds, sailing a very similar strategy and for whatever reason we weren’t sailing as fast as the other boats.
“Day in, day out, those miles add up. It puts a lot of pressure on Jules and myself to try and pull a rabbit out of a hat and find something extra and make up for that.
“It puts a lot of pressure on us just to stay in touch with everyone let alone to try and make any gains.”
Walker said the need for speed had forced the crew to take two risks: packing a minimal amount of food in a bid to save weight -- which resulted in some very hungry crewmen; and making some ‘roll-the-dice’ moves in the Caribbean.
“As the leg went on we took more and more risk to try and get a bit of leverage to try and get back to Groupama,” Walker said. “That didn’t work out for us in the end.
“The only other option was to just follow in their wake and just lose more miles, so that makes it a very difficult place for us.
“I think anybody following the race would see we have a speed issue and it’s an issue that we see pretty much on all points of sail, some more than others. It’s not to say we didn’t make any mistakes, but I’m sure all the boats out there made mistakes at some point during the leg."
Abu Dhabi score 10 points for fifth place, taking their overall tally to 68.
The Leg 6 results have thrown the leaderboard wide open and left the top four teams within 17 points of leaders Team Telefónica.
With three more offshore legs and four more in-port races to be sailed before the race finishes in Galway in Ireland this July, the top four all still have a credible chance of lifting the overall trophy.
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 PUMA FIN 017d 01h 13m 59s
2 CMPR FIN 017d 02h 21m 24s
3 GPMA FIN 017d 07h 29m 03s
4 TELE FIN 017d 08h 06m 38s
5 ADOR FIN 017d 15h 57m 37s
- SNYA Did Not Start
Overall Leg 6 Total
1 Team Telefónica 15 164
2 Groupama sailing team 20 153
3 CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ 25 149
4 PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG 30 147
5 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 10 68
6 Team Sanya 0 25