Sanya gets a tow to Tauranga in New Zealand   
Leg 5 leader of the Volvo Ocean Race, Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, has throttled back to preserve man and boat as the fleet felt a return to the classic Southern Ocean conditions of huge, confused seas and gale-force winds on Tuesday local time.

Despite a lead of just 37 nautical miles, Cammas and crew chose safety over speed to avoid breakages to their Volvo Open 70, as winds hit more than 35 knots and waves grew to around six metres, following a brief respite from the thrashing yesterday.

Four of the six yachts have suffered damage so far in the 6,700nm leg from Auckland to Itajaí in Brazil, and Groupama’s skipper said in the Southern Ocean, survival must come before speed.

"We had to slow down during the night to nurse the boat and the men,” Cammas said. “We are waiting for the day to come to put some more sails up again. “It’s more about surviving than racing. For sure it’s been the toughest week since the start of the race.”

Groupama helmsman, Laurent Pagès, added: “We have been sailing this way since we got to this part of the ocean where the sea state is really bad.

"When we returned to boat breaking conditions we took our foot off the pedal. We gave some miles to Puma, but it’s all fine because we don’t have any problems on board.”

Despite slowing the boat down, Groupama was hurtling along at an average of 21 knots in the three hours prior to the 1300 UTC position report.

Hot on her heels was Ken Read’s Puma. Both teams have passed the eastern ice limit, allowing them to dive south and take the shortest possible route to Cape Horn, around 1,200nm away.

Telefónica slipped to 314nm off the lead after being forced to hold back to prevent damage to the bow getting worse.

Still in fourth, but heading to southern Chile to carry out repairs to their damaged bow, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand’s crew celebrated getting to within 2,000 miles of their destination, Puerto Montt.

"It’s a milestone for us; another step towards getting to land and making the repairs,” helmsman Tony Rae commented.

"Once we get to Puerto Montt and have a look at the damage, we’ll know when we can leave again."

At 1415nm behind the leader, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was revelling in much less dangerous conditions than the rest of the fleet, her crew looking forward to opportunities further along the course.

"We haven’t seen too much harsh weather since leaving New Zealand so we’re just chipping away and enjoying the downwind Southern Ocean downwind yachting,” Abu Dhabi’s newest recruit, Australian triple Olympic sailor, Anthony ‘Nocka’ Nossiter, said.

"We’re happy to be stuck in lighter airs at the back of the fleet if the front guys are going to break their boats in hard core weather. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Nocka, who last competed in the Volvo Ocean Race on the Race’s now CEO, Knut Frostad’s Djuice Dragons in 2001-02, added: “We’re quite a long way off the pace with our delayed start time, but you never know what can happen.

"The last time I did this race, we passed three boats between Cape Horn and the finish. It’s like a totally new race after the Horn; it could be a restart.”

Mike Sanderson’s Team Sanya reached Tauranga in New Zealand on Tuesday, five days after a broken rudder forced them to turn back.

Sanya will be shipped to Savannah in the United States for repairs before sailing it to Miami to re-join the race for Leg 7.

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