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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fight For Dominance Before Entering South China Sea - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team Telefónica were fending off relentless attacks from Groupama sailing team on Tuesday, clinging to the lead as the fleet continued the race through the South China Sea.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Groupama’s persistence took them to within four nautical miles of Telefónica, the overall race leaders, at 1440 UTC, with PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG a lurking presence 11 miles behind the frontrunner.

"It's going to be tight with Groupama,” said Telefónica’s Australian navigator Andrew Cape. “They're a good team and very hard to get rid of.”
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
The teams, relieved to be out of the Malacca Strait, were sailing against the wind towards a final landfall prior to what looks set to be a straight-line slog over 500 nm to the Vietnamese coast on their way to the Leg 3 Stage 2 finish in Sanya.

On their way to China, the fleet must leave a large archipelago 150 nm off the eastern coast of Malaysia on their left.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
As the leading trio closed in on Selia Island on the archipelago’s easternmost tip, Iker Martínez’s Team Telefónica were still doing just enough to keep Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team at bay.

“They're way too close for our liking,” said Cape. "You have to react very quickly when they do something because you don't want to take chances when they're that close. You have to react very fast to their manoeuvres. It's going to be very interesting to watch.”
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Cape’s opposite number on Groupama, Jean-Luc Nélias, said the fight was too close to call with such a long way to go.

“Ridiculous this lead in view of what lies ahead," he said, adding: "We are still happy to be where we are."
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
Some 80nm astern, Chris Nicholson’s CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand lived up to their reputation as being fast upwind, revelling in the 15 knot north easterly winds to position themselves to the east of Ian Walker’s fourth-place Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

Abu Dhabi watch captain Robert Greenhalgh said he expected opportunities to open up in the gale force winds and big seas expected in the next 24 hours.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
“As the breeze builds things may well even up,” he said. “Once the wind’s up above 25 knots and the sea state builds, it’s anyone’s game.”

After a difficult passage through the Malacca Strait section, which saw them drop to over 179 nm from the lead, Mike Sanderson’s Team Sanya were the last boat to exit the Singapore Strait.

Media Crew Member Andrés Soriano said the Chinese team had narrowly avoided becoming ensnared in the floating net of an uncommunicative fisherman.
Photos: Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
Sanya passed the Horsburgh Lighthouse and joined the rest of the fleet in the South China Sea at around 1400 UTC today.

Revised estimations now suggest the leading boats could complete the second stage of Leg 3 to Sanya as early as February 4.

Team Sanya will receive full Leg 3 points when they finish at their homeport, as they were unable to take part in Stage 1 because of a rigging problem, while the other five teams will receive 80 per cent of the leg points.


Leg 3
Report: 31/01/2012 14:47:07 UTC
DTLDTLCBSDTF
1TELE0.00011901.7
2GPMA3.60610.8905.3
3PUMA10.801610.5912.5
4ADOR72.60910974.3
5CMPR79.20199.7980.9
6SNYA179.701111081.4

Volvo Ocean Race Media 

Three Locked In Titanic Tactical Battle - Volvo Ocean Race Update

At 0200 UTC this morning, Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) and PUMA’s Mar Mostro had peeled off from the wake of leg leader Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) and tacked onto starboard.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
The first five boats are racing towards an archipelago situated 130 nm off the east coast of Malaysia, which they must leave to port. Martínez and his men changed direction one hour later and by doing so, adopted a protective position between Groupama 4 and the wind.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Four hours later, Mar Mostro had tacked again and, such is the closeness of this race, Groupama followed five minutes later.
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
The leading trio is now engaged in a battle as they trade tacks to clear the string of islands. Although largely flat, the islands should not present a wind shadow, although there is always the chance of fluky breeze close to the coastlines. The next hours will be very tactical and it is likely that the leading three will continue to sail as if racing inshore, looking for the layline and covering their position.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Once past Selia Island, the third of three waypoints in this area, the next challenge will be a punching 450 nm one-tack beat towards the coast of Vietnam. The weather is closing in and in 30 hours’ time the fleet will be sailing in gale force conditions with waves up to five metres. Closer to the Vietnam shore, however, the wind will ease as it moves left and bends round the coastline, but it will be physically demanding on the crews as they tack and stack around the Capes, looking for an advantage, while escaping the worst of the storm.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
In fourth and fifth place, 30 nm behind the leaders CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) and Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, five nm behind, have their own private match race having both turned the corner and pointed their bows towards the archipelago. Present conditions are unpleasant with frequent rainsqualls and 14-15 knots of northeasterly breeze; a complete change from the windless heat of the Singapore Strait, which sixth placed Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) is still negotiating.
Photos: Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
Over 176 nm in arrears, Team Sanya are crossing the worst of the commercial traffic in the Singapore Strait in daylight, having had a lucky escape from a fishing net yesterday. For those that negotiated the Strait at night, the blur of lights from the maze of shipping was a confusing, but magnificent sight.
Photos: Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
“Hundreds of 200-300-metre ships were swinging at anchor causing an abundance of commercial confusion and a buzz of constant activity,” reported Amory Ross from Mar Mostro. “All the while, the massive metropolis of Singapore loomed up river, bright enough to silhouette the surrounding aircraft carrier-sized ships,” he said of a sight, although already long forgotten by the racing crew, he will remember for years.

Leg 3
Report: 31/01/2012 10:04:35 UTC

DTLDTLCBSDTF
1TELE0.00011.8948.2
2GPMA0.60111.4948.8
3PUMA4.20011.8952.4
4CMPR30.701310.4978.8
5ADOR35.801711.5984.0
6SNYA176.3047.31124.4
Volvo Ocean Race Media