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Volvo Ocean Race: The final showdown -- Puma v Telefónica

06/04/2012
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Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Auckland to Itajaí has entered the final stage, with a thrilling finale being played out between PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) who believe this leg win is rightfully theirs, and Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) who have made an incredible comeback.

At 1000 GMT and with 68.3 nautical miles (nm) to go until they cross the finish, PUMA led Telefónica by just two nm, but the Spanish team had the edge on speed, averaging just under a knot quicker. The leading boat is expected to finish around 1600 UTC today.

Martínez and his men, who made a 17-hour pit stop after rounding Cape Horn on March 31 to strengthen damage to the bow of Telefónica, have been closing on PUMA ever since they returned to the race track.

“We’re doing our absolute best, but there is something very disconcerting about watching your lead evaporate to a boat thriving in conditions we can’t reach,” said PUMA’s Media Crew Member Amory Ross.

Now downwind in 11 knots of wind in flatter seas, there is a renewed sense of determination on board PUMA as the two boats’ courses merge seven nm off the Brazilian coast and 24 nm from the final waypoint at Florianópolis, some 30 miles south of Itajaí.

Meanwhile, work is continuing apace in Punta del Este to prepare a jury rig for Groupama in order that they can restart and complete Leg 5. In Chile, the shore crew of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand are making good progress with the repairs to the boat and the race team intend to restart Leg 5 as soon as they can.