“It is amazing how evenly matched we are with PUMA,” observed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand co-skipper Stu Bannatyne. "Less than a mile in it in every sked, both teams obviously pushing to the absolute max, and both boats appear to be exactly the same speed at the moment."
In the most exhilarating of sailing, the fleet is crashing north in a crazy, wet roller coaster ride, racking up the miles towards the finish in Miami and in pursuit of the IWC Schaffhausen Speed Trophy awarded to the team who cover the most miles in 24 hours. In the 24-hour period from 0700 GMT on Wednesday, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG had covered 509 nm with CAMPER a short neck behind on 505 nm, clearly illustrating the closeness of the race with 3,250 miles of the leg already completed. The leading trio are 351 miles southeast of Guadeloupe.
In a contrast to the past few days, foulweather gear is back in force as torrents of water, rather warmer than in the Southern Ocean, firehose the crews as they put the pressure on to gain a mile wherever they can.
The second battle playing out for fourth and fifth place has calmed as Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas/FRA) extend their delta to 22 miles over Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) who bring up the rear 143.6 nm astern of PUMA. Despite the deficit, the crew of Groupama are remaining positive, reporting that on board, spirits are high. The excellent sailing conditions and their comeback in relation to Abu Dhabi have much to do with the raising of morale.
The last stage of Leg 6 is expected to be in light conditions, bristling with meteorological traps, something that appeals to the Groupama crew who view this as an opportunity to get back in the game.