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Volvo Ocean Race: Boat speed is key in fight towards Malacca Strait

23/01/2012
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It’s been upwind all the way since the start of Leg 3, Stage 2 from the Maldives on Sunday, although this is set to change in a day or two once the tightly-packed fleet is free of the wind shadow caused by Sri Lanka, 200 nm to their north.

PUMA’s Mar Mostro, with Ken Read (USA) in charge made small gains on the entire six-boat fleet overnight and retains her lead at 1000 UTC this morning, although the fleet continues to be in close contact and boat speed is key in this drag race to the east. Less than three miles separate the first three boats, although the lateral spread of the fleet, now 10 nm, is significant.

Iker Martínez (ESP) has positioned Telefónica in the prime northerly position and moved up to fourth place this morning, while Mike Sanderson (NZL), now in sixth, fights to keep pace with the newer race boats and has been forced to sail a freer, more southerly course on Sanya in order to do so. Five degrees difference in wind angle can make a huge difference and Sanya’s position in the south is probably not be the one Sanderson would have chosen had he had a faster boat.

There will be at least another day of upwind sailing before the teams can free off and see speeds rocket in the pressure generated by the breeze from the eastern side of Sri Lanka. But, by Thursday, it will be back on the wind for the approach to the notorious Malacca Strait, around 1000 nm east, and the sweet spot will be in the north.

The crew of Telefónica has now completed the repairs to their Code Zero sail. Trying to tame the 500 square metres of sail inside the boat in order to do so was a big operation.

“To fix the sail was very easy - the worst bit was getting the sail down below," said Jordi Calafat. "It’s one of the heaviest and biggest sails. Normally we keep it on the windward side, but we had to take it down below. The damage was to one of the corners of the sail so we stitched it by hand. We put a new plate in and off we go.

“I think the repair will hold, fingers crossed it won’t be a problem. Everything else is fine, and we’re back at full speed. At the moment we’re overtaking Abu Dhabi – it’s all good.

"Right now we are sailing with a full main and J1. We have 13 knots of wind, a true wind angle of 80 degrees, and we’re doing 15 knots of boat speed. It’s very gusty. Overnight we had very good conditions for sleep so everyone is rested.”

Last modified on Thursday, 12 April 2012 14:17

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