Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Telefónica Apply The Pressure - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team Telefónica stepped up their Leg 5 comeback on Wednesday, closing to within 50 nautical miles of the leading two boats, after CAMPER motored into Puerto Montt in Chile to start repairs and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing announced plans to ship their damaged boat from the same port to Itajaí in Brazil.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
After days of one-on-one racing, leading duo Groupama sailing team and PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG have one more thing to worry about after Telefónica confirmed the impression that they are once again contenders for a fourth leg victory on this race.

Groupama held a 2.2 nm lead over PUMA at 1300 UTC but Iker Martinez’s crew were riding at the head of a weather front about 150 nm south east of the frontrunners, now just 46.5 nm behind in terms of distance to finish.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Telefónica suspended racing at 0405 UTC on April 1 to fix structural problems, rejoining the race just 17 hours later. Since then they have gone from being resigned to third place with a deficit of more than 400 nm to serious challengers with just over 650 nm of racetrack remaining.

Their rapid advance has caused anxiety among the two front boats, forced to factor Telefónica’s challenge into their tactics.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
“We are afraid of Telefónica," helmsman/trimmer Charles Caudrelier said. “We’ve seen them coming back for a long time. They have an exceptional forecast – we would have loved to have the same forecast to reach Itajaí faster!

“They are super privileged. They should be very close to us at some point and may get some light wind too, but the finish isn’t very clear.

“They are scaring us. Especially because they are leading the overall ranking and we were counting on that leg to win points and get closer to them. Now, we see that they can be with us on the finish line. It surely is a supplementary stress.”

The leading boats are expected to arrive in Itajaí around 1600 UTC on Friday, April 6.

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand will be a long way behind them after arriving at Puerto Montt at 2240 UTC on Tuesday, having diverted to the Chilean city on March 25 because of structural damage in the bow of their boat.

Their plan is to make repairs before resuming racing to Itajaí, around 3,000 nm away.

Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing hope to join them in time for the Itajaí In-Port Race on April 21 but will not be sailing. They made the tough decision to call off the 6,700 nautical mile leg from Auckland to preserve the safety of the crew and stop further damage to their boat, rather than face 50-knot winds and huge seas forecast at Cape Horn.

“As skipper my overriding responsibility is the safety of Azzam and her crew and this is always at the forefront of my mind,” Walker said.

“The Southern Ocean is one part of the world you do not want to head out into with a yacht that is not 100 per cent.

“We have carefully reviewed all our options, spoken with our build teams and weather experts and this was the only logical choice available to us.”

Abu Dhabi first discovered the damage to the mid section of the left side of Azzam’s hull on March 29 while battling horrendous Southern Ocean conditions.

The crew carried out a daring mid-sea repair in 35 knots and four-metre seas, drilling more than 30 bolts through the hull to reinforce the damaged section.

Despite the team’s heroics, it was decided the repair was not strong enough to take on the remaining 3,000 nm of the leg.

The ship carrying Azzam is scheduled to leave Puerto Montt on Saturday for the nine-day voyage to Itajaí.

“Of course we are devastated,” Walker added. “However the team is fully motivated and will once again show a fighting spirit to get Azzam back sailing competitively as soon as possible.”
Leg 5
04/04/2012 13:10:18 UTC
-ADORDid Not Finish
-CAMPSuspended Racing
-SNYADid Not Finish
Volvo Ocean Race Media

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