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Volvo Ocean Race: Team Telefónica lead as challengers suffer

25/01/2012
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At 1000 UTC today, Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) still led the hunt, 11 nm ahead of PUMA’s Mar Mostro, 46 nm off the coast of Sumatra, with the rest of the fleet spread out over 96 nm from first to last.

The Malacca Strait is such a busy stretch of water and, coupled with unstable weather, gains and losses among the six-boat Volvo Ocean Race fleet will be commonplace over the next 36 hours or so.

At 0700 this morning, all but sixth-place Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) had made small gains, with PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read) closest to mounting a challenge for leadership, just 5.4 nm behind Telefónica. However, the luck didn’t hold for the chasing pack and at 1000 UTC today, the whole fleet had made losses as average three-hour speeds for all but Telefónica sank into single figures. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG are now 11.4 nm behind the leaders in second and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand are 25.2 nm off the pace in third.

CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) lost a handful of painful miles overnight and another 10 nm this morning when the team became trapped under a windless cloud and Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) appeared on the horizon just five miles or so behind.

“The key is not to do anything radical,” said CAMPER co-skipper Stu Bannatyne this morning. “We just have to sail the boat the best we know how. We know the boat is pretty fast in light air and flat water, which is probably what we’re going to get a bit of, so it’s important not to panic, not to do anything silly, to stay in touch and just chip away a little bit at a time.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are 48 nm behind the leaders, with Team Sanya now struggling almost 100 nm in arrears.

Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson has told his team that no matter what position they finish in, they can look each other in the eye and know they gave their all. A night of tacks and little sleep brought some small gains but Sanya still trail in last place.

After a week at sea, the first sight of the beautiful Indonesian coastline rising above the sea with its ragged tropical vegetation was quite an unexpected experience for some of the crews, especially those from Europe. We tacked a lot and it was just beautiful,” said Groupama 4’s Thomas Coville. “It was really exciting, really magical,” he added.