The south easterly outriders are converging at speed in the 16-knot breeze to form one group, which includes PUMA, who is now only seven nm to leeward of Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP), and Groupama (Franck Camass/FRA), 134 nm off the coast of Brazil. PUMA’s increased average boat speed has allowed her to cover 293 nm in the past 24 hours, five miles further than Telefónica.
“These are easy miles, close reaching in flat water, there is little discomfort other than the rising temperature,” described PUMA’s Media Crew Member Amory Ross. “Life on deck is quiet, calm, and dry, and you begin to see the potential in these boats when they’re hitting their stride. A puff comes and instead of heeling over, they accelerate rapidly: 16, 17, 18, 19 knots…it doesn’t take much to make the numbers climb.”
Meanwhile, inshore CAMPER were accompanied for much of yesterday by a pod of dolphins, as they edged their way along the coast avoiding the Brazilian Current and playing cat and mouse with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. According to helmsman/trimmer Tony Rae, dolphins are regarded as good luck, something that CAMPER have been short of so far in this nine-leg race. However, the luck is yet to kick in, as CAMPER have now been relegated to second place and, overnight, the tack line broke during a sail change.
“It was the kind of explosive bang which booms from somewhere on the boat, everything goes silent for one long second until it’s figured out what’s broken, if everyone is OK and what the next move is,” said MCM Hamish Hooper. Fortunately, the crew already had the fractional code zero sail ready to go and the incident did not cost the team precious miles.
The drag race is set to continue for at least another 24 hours as the crews approach a frontal line with lightning and thunder squalls defining the southern edge and tantalising trade winds waiting on the northern side.