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Monday, April 30, 2012

Big Night For Fleet As They Enter Doldrums For The Last Time - Volvo Ocean Race Update

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) tonight leads the fleet into the Doldrums for the fourth and final time during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 having crossed the Equator earlier today. After failing on Leg 1 to supply King Neptune with the correct libations, something to which the crew attribute their subsequent dismasting, this time they were careful to correct the error of their ways and offered the King a drop of rum to keep them safe in the northern hemisphere.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
At 1900 GMT, the Americans had a buffer of 26 nautical miles (nm) over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) who had gained 11 nm, overtaking Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) and moving into second place by just 0.8 of a mile, as the trio raced up the north east coast of Brazil, 200 nm offshore.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
So far, the light airs Doldrums zone, which stretches about 200 nm, has been well behaved, although a lot thunderstorm activity is on the cards for tonight.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
CAMPER co-skipper Stu Bannatyne believes that being this far west in the Atlantic, the Doldrums crossing will be a lot kinder. “Fingers crossed it stays as nice as it is right now – we have about 15 knots of wind and are beam reaching and all going nicely,” he said today.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
He added that a good passage through will be about managing the clouds and making sure you are not off course by more than five or 10 degrees, with the right sails up at the right time. According to Ian Walker, skipper of fourth-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, relative to the Doldrums we have seen in the race so far, it looks reasonable inactive.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
While Telefónica and CAMPER continue to make inroads into PUMA’s 26 nm lead, a distance that can be swallowed up in an instant by misjudging one rogue cloud, both Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) have been leaking miles. At 1900 GMT tonight, Abu Dhabi was more than 110 nm miles adrift, while Groupama struggled 151 nm astern of PUMA.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
The poor performance of Groupama is something this crack crew are simply not used to. “It doesn’t feel good to be trailing the other boats, it’s a completely new feeling,” said helmsman/trimmer Martin Stromberg. “There have been a lot of ups and downs, but at the moment there are a lot of downs,” he said. The crew are doing their best with the conditions they have and are hoping to find opportunities later in the leg.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
Once through the Doldrums, the north east trade winds will come into play, however they are fairly unstable at this time of the year. “It’s not uncommon to have a front push down from Florida and mess things up even more from the Bahamas onwards,” Bannatyne said.

Giving hope to the beleaguered French team, the CAMPER co-skipper recalls finishing this race 10 years ago into Miami when there were “all sorts of rain clouds and thunderstorms”.

“There were a lot of place changes in that last 150 miles. It’s still all on the table at this point,” Bannatyne said.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Tonight, the first three boats are ripping up the miles towards Miami, and with a positive current and flat sea, speeds are still in the mid-teens, or in CAMPER’s case, nearly 20 knots. Once through the Doldrums, the next stage of the race, a 1,000 nm drag race to the mid Caribbean, can begin.
Leg 6
30/04/2012 19:01:00 UTC
DTLDTLCBSDTF
1PUMA0.00016.62514.9
2CMPR26.001119.52540.9
3TELE26.80216.62541.7
4ADOR110.201411.32625.1
5GPMA151.60415.22666.5
-SNYADid Not Start
Volvo Ocean Race Media

PUMA Continue To Power Ahead - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Leg 6 leaders PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG have today bought themselves some valuable miles against their closest challengers, Team Telefónica and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, after the chasing duo closed to within two miles yesterday.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
PUMA made the best of a move by the top three boats towards the Brazilian coast over the last 24 hours, picking up assistance from northerly currents and a zone of wind acceleration closer to the shore to pull out a lead of 30 nautical miles (nm) at 1000 UTC today over second placed Telefónica.
 Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
After spending most of Sunday with their hearts in their mouths watching both CAMPER and Telefónica close them down, the PUMA crew -- headed by American skipper Ken Read -- saw their speed rocket close to 20 knots after passing the latitude of Fortaleza to the north east of Brazil.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
PUMA crossed the Equator at 0840 UTC -- their fourth and final crossing of this edition of the race -- and must now protect their lead through the Doldrums, a band of fickle breezes located around 100 nm north. Telefónica and CAMPER both crossed the Equator at 0910 UTC in second and third respectively.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Back in fourth, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crossed the Equator at 1155 UTC having closed to within just over 40 nm of CAMPER despite sailing in different breezes for most of the last few days. Skipper Ian Walker said that with around 100 nm to run to the Doldrums the Emirati team were preparing themselves “for a bit of action later today.”
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
“It’s been a difficult day or two,” Walker said. “We just generally seem to be sailing in less wind than everyone else. We made quite a nice gain towards the end of yesterday on CAMPER and Telefónica so we’re just trying to hang on to them as best we can and hope something opens up.”

Walker said he hoped to be able to make further gains to get within striking distance of the leaders later in the leg when the fleet will engage in a 1,000 nm trade wind drag race to the Caribbean.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
“Generally we’re losing a couple of miles per sked but then we’re always in a lot less wind. Hopefully we’ll have made up that distance in the next few days,” he said.

With any Doldrums crossing generally throwing up opportunities for the boats playing catch up, Walker said he was hopeful of making gains on the leaders soon after the Equator.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
“All we have to go on is models and satellite pictures which might not necessarily tell the right story,” Walker said. “It’s still the Doldrums, there could still be a period of the boats slowing down and a lot of storm activity depending on what time of the day you get there.

“I’m sure something’s going to happen but relative to the Doldrums we’ve seen in the race so far it looks reasonably inactive. Maybe we’ll just sail straight through and hook into the north east trades and be off. We’ve got to prepare for anything,” Walker said.

At 1300 UTC today PUMA’s lead was 31 nm over second placed Team Telefónica who were 9 nm ahead of CAMPER in third. Abu Dhabi remained in fourth 48 nm behind CAMPER with Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team in fifth, 142 nm off the lead.

The leading boats are expected to complete Leg 6 from Itajaí to Miami on or around May 9.
Leg 6
30/04/2012 13:01:12 UTC
DTLDTLCBSDTF
1PUMA0.00019.22612.1
2TELE30.70119.62642.8
3CMPR39.70418.12651.8
4ADOR86.501015.82698.6
5GPMA141.701414.62753.7
-SNYADid Not Start
Volvo Ocean Race Media