Monday, May 28, 2012

Abu Dhabi Leave Rest Of Fleet For Dust - Volvo Ocean Race Update

The six boats racing in Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Miami to Lisbon are tearing across the Atlantic led by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) who have pulled out a margin of 78 nautical miles over PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA). But it’s not over yet and now the pain begins for the team who are looking for their first leg win.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Between 1900 and 2200 GMT last night, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s navigator, Jules Salter made the call to gybe back on course for Lisbon, followed by the rest of the fleet around midnight, with the exception of Mike Sanderson and SANYA who had sailed to within 50 nm of the ice exclusion zone before altering course on Sunday. However, with the front filling in from behind, the fleet is making gains on Abu Dhabi as speeds for the chasing pack hit the 20-knot mark.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
“We should haemorrhage miles to PUMA over the next few scheds until the breeze catches up with us,” Abu Dhabi navigator Jules Salter explained. PUMA are five miles north of the Emirati team and in a more solid and lifted breeze. According to Abu Dhabi’s Media Crew Member Nick Dana, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) is another threat. In his missive this morning, Dana explained that CAMPER was also in better breeze and closing quickly.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Keeping in the Gulf Stream positive current has helped to pull out a buffer for Ian Walker and his men, but whether it will be enough to keep the chasing pack at bay is yet to be seen. “Jules knew we were going to suffer eventually, so we might as well have everything working for us when it begins,” commented watch leader Rob Greenhalgh.

The fleet will have to traverse a high-pressure ridge in around two days’ as they close in the finish, which could easily compromise Abu Dhabi’s lead. “We are using every available opportunity to create as large a buffer zone,’’ Dana said. “With 470 nm to the Azores now, and around 1400 nm to the finish, we’re confident, but a bit nervous as well.”
Photo: Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
Meanwhile, Sanya’s northerly sortie towards the ice zone has paid handsomely. The team is just two miles behind CAMPER and hungry for their first podium finish.

“We are expecting this front to hit us in the next 24 hours, and we can expect more constant pressure,” said Sanya’s navigator Aksel Magdahl. “We need to stay ahead of it [the front] and if we do, there will be gains to be made.”
Photo: Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) and Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) are keeping close company, with a lateral separation of just seven miles, but in fifth and sixth place respectively. Sanya and CAMPER are just 12 miles to their north, and with PUMA pushing hard 48 nm further north still, with everything to gain, the next two days will be crucial.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
“After all the twists and turns of this leg so far, it still looks like the race will be decided in the ridge we have to cross before we reach the cost of Portugal,” said CAMPER navigator Will Oxley.
Leg 7
28/05/2012 7:00:46 UTC
Volvo Ocean Race Media

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