French skipper Franck Cammas in Sanya
Though the Spanish have once again taken victory in this third oceanic leg, Franck Cammas and his men have earned themselves a superb second place in China and boosted their position on the podium in the overall standing. Groupama 4 is now proving to be a real threat to Camper and is gaining an edge over Puma and Abu Dhabi…
Ultimately it took a little over twelve and a half days to complete the 3,000 miles separating the Maldives from China: Telefonica took victory in Sanya with a time of 12d 19h 58′, followed less than two hours later by Groupama 4 (12d 21h 45′). This latest victory for the Spanish assures their position as leader in the overall standing, but Franck Cammas and his crew are now just nine points shy of the New Zealanders, who were third into China, and have increased their lead over the Americans (23 points) and the Emiratis (32 points). This second place comes as a great satisfaction to the French team, since the prevailing upwind conditions and light airs aren’t the most favourable for Groupama 4. Finishing slightly earlier than scheduled, the whole crew will be able to get some rest after this very physically demanding leg, which was mentally stressful. The start of the next offshore leg to Auckland is scheduled for Sunday 19 February.
Franck Cammas at the finish in Sanya
"This second place is one we’d have liked to have signed for before leaving the Maldives! It was the least favourable leg for Groupama 4 because we had light winds and upwind, but in the end we sailed in close-contact with the top players and we really made our presence felt. We battled to make sure we were always in the thick of the action and never fell off the pace. Telefonica did manage to get away from us at the end though: the Spanish have an extremely quick boat in these conditions. We’re back in the game in terms of the overall standing in relation to Camper and Puma and we’ve done a really good job.

The outcome of the race was decided in part in the Straits of Malacca and one night in particular we made good use of the squalls and managed to close on the leaders pretty quickly. The Spanish are certainly impressive with 3 victories in the 3 offshore legs. Like everyone else though, they make mistakes, but fewer than the others. They had conditions which favoured them too: sailing fast and in the right direction makes a win rather logical! They have some weaknesses, which we were able to analyse and we have our strengths: we’ll have to see what happens in the next few legs.

We’re very tired. I think it was the hardest and most intense leg so far in this Volvo Ocean Race. It was virtually impossible to do whole watches over the last 48 hours as there were a lot of manoeuvres.

I think we’re probably more dangerous now, but we’re only a third of the way into the race. We certainly lost points during the second leg: without that we would be closer to the leaders today. However, what I take from this leg is that our crew has made the most progress over the different races…"

Thomas Coville

"It was a very fine second leg because it called for incredible commitment on a physical level as we were almost constantly in contact with the other competitors. It’s something every racer in the Volvo Ocean Race dreams about, on a complicated course, that was difficult but exotic at the same time, since we were very close to the coast at times. The Straits of Malacca, the Vietnamese coast; that is an inspiration to Europeans! The battle with Telefonica, Camper and Puma has been superb: it’s a privilege, a pleasure and an honour to sail against crews of this level. I think that we’re on an upward spiral: we question what we do, we work hard, we’re making progress and we’re starting to worry the other teams. Above all though, we’re enjoying ourselves!"

Jean-Luc Nélias

"We were expecting worse in the Straits of Malacca: I reckon we’ve done well in this leg which wasn’t as long as we’d imagined at the start, with fewer obstacles and less shipping than we’d thought… We were amazed we got out of this funnel so quickly. Other than that, it’s a leg where we were predominantly sailing close-hauled, into the wind, not making headway! You have to put in a series of tacks which is laborious, particularly over the last four days with bigger seas and strong wind. It was tiring, not just physically but also mentally, because there was a lot of strategy involved, light airs, storms, squalls and hence a lot of stress and uncertainty about the tactical choices.

However, we have been rubbing shoulders with some incredible landscapes: the tip of Sumatra where, if you’d listened hard enough, you’d have been able to hear the monkeys; a rather misty Straits of Malacca with a lot of shipping; the Vietnamese coast with the Mekong Delta and its thousands of fishermen… My father was a mechanic on a cargo ship which followed the Asia route and I’d always heard tell of Saigon (now known to the western world as Ho Chi Minh City)… All these names on the charts are magical. It was very sporty too this leg! We’re third in the overall standing and we’ve closed on the team in second place: we’re only a third of the way into this Volvo Ocean Race so we still have six oceanic legs to go…"

Ranking for Groupama 4 in the various Volvo Ocean Race legs:

5th (In-Port Alicante),
3rd (Leg 1),
5th (In-Port Cape Town),
4th (Leg 2),
2nd (In-Port Abu-Dhabi),
2nd (Leg 3)

Provisional overall standing (points at the start from Abu Dhabi + Leg 3.1 + Leg 3.2)

1. Telefonica – 68 points + 3 + 24 = 95 points
2. Camper – 62 points + 2 + 16 = 80 points
3. Groupama 4 – 47 points + 4 + 20 = 71 points
4. Puma Ocean Racing – 31 points + 5 + 12 = 48 points
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – (awaiting their arrival in China)
6. Sanya – (awaiting their arrival in China)
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