The spanish boat skippered by Iker Martínez is holding the top spot in the fleet with an 11 mile lead on “Puma” and 25 miles ahead of "Camper”

After the 24 hour mark since yesterday at 12:10 UTC “Telefónica” moved into the lead in the fleet at the Malacca Strait, and the Spanish Volvo Ocean Race crew’s performance on this second stage of the third leg to China is nothing short of incredible. The team is negotiating the obstacles on one of the world’s busiest maritime passages, where showers, currents and trawler nets all litter the course at every turn.

Just past the point where the entry to the Malacca Strait begins, Pulua We, just North of Sumatra, a fierce tacking battle commenced between the Spanish boat, American entry “Puma” and New Zealand yacht “Camper”, as Diego Fructuoso, the “Telefónica” MCM explained in his blog from the boat today: “We got through in front, but with "Team New Zealand" and "Puma" very nearby. There were lots of tacks from the three boats to defend positions. In the end "Puma" and ourselves chose an option more to the windward side that looks like it might be working out.”

From there “Telefónica” and “Puma” chose to gain windward as much as possible along the coast of Malaysia, whilst NZ entry “Camper” and French boat “Groupama” chose to sail through the middle, closer to the coast of Sumatra. The result was that the Spanish and the Americans broke away from the rest of the fleet which is currently split into three distinct groups: there’s “Telefónica”, leading the race with absolute authority, and “Puma”, 12 miles astern; “Camper” and “Groupama” are sailing to the middle of the Strait with a gap of 26 miles to the leader "Telefónica” and the third group is made up of “Abu Dhabi” and “Sanya”, 50 and 113 miles from the top of the fleet.

Defending the lead will be the main priority for the Spaniards and Iker Martínez and co are well aware of the importance of exiting the incredibly tricky Malacca Strait in the best possible position: “We’re all very excited, as we know how important this position report is. Getting out of here at the front can bring a big advantage with it, so we’ve got to give it our all!” said Fructuoso.

Traffic lights a few miles ahead

Despite it’s reputation for light airs and big currents, the first 200 miles of the Malacca Strait has dished up a good amount of breeze for the fleet. However, forecasts say that over the next few hours the boats will enter a light zone which may mean a regrouping of the fleet en route to the halfway mark on the Strait, where the boats will also be sailing through a canal some 12 miles wide before reaching Singapore, which will be the end of this second stretch of this second stage of the leg to China. The third stretch of the leg to China will be some 60 miles between before and after Singapore.

Day 7– 14:00 UTC – 28th January 2012

1 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 1,462 miles from finish
2 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +12.3 miles
3 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +26.2 miles
4 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +26.6 miles
5 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +50.2 miles
6 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +113.9 miles 


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