Overnight, the wind filled in and Telefónica was able to snatch second place from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS), but by 0700 GMT today, CAMPER had nudged ahead again as the places reversed. Meanwhile Groupama had a more positive three hours and reduced their deficit by 10 nm to lie 104 nm behind PUMA the leg leader.
The fleet is not out of the woods yet. Inshore the conditions around the coast of Recife, in Brazil’s north east, look light and dangerous. The light and puffy conditions have increased the intensity as the teams pick their approach. Offshore, the pressure is up, but requires sailing more miles. Sail too far in, and there is a real possibility of parking and watching the fleet sail round the outside.
PUMA is keeping more than a passing interest on what is happening behind them, moving to within 17 nm of the beach, almost directly off Recife and covering their position to ensure that no one pulls off a risky attempt at cutting inside and scything vital miles off the trip. CAMPER is just two nm to windward, and Telefónica a further five miles to the east.
“Curiosity killed the cat once, so we are hoping history might repeat and PUMA might get a wee bit curious and get caught in too close along the shore with Telefónica, leaving us to take off with the fresher trades,” wrote CAMPER Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper early this morning. “If only it would happen like this. It is never that easy.”
Skipper Chris Nicholson is planning to give Recife a wide berth. “It’s very light, I would much rather have come in here in normal breeze and got round,” he said. We are moving alright now, but it looks light and dangerous close to the shore.”
The fleet is hoping for a much-needed right-hand shift to allow them to creep past the Cabo Branco and Natal on the north eastern tip of Brazil on one tack before bearing away, but it is a thin lay line of about 120 nm.
Abu Dhabi MCM Nick Dana says the wind is forecast to strengthen and lift as they near the coastline, allowing them to make it safely round on one tack, however the lights of Brazil are only getting brighter.
“Our priorities are to hold onto our position relative to the fleet and lay this point without having to tack,” Dana said. “If we manage these goals, we will stand a good chance of making big gains on the leaders once the wind angles free up and the pressure strengthens.”