The Spanish boat takes on the final one-thousand mile stretch to Sanya (China)
The Malacca Strait is now history for “Telefónica”. At 16:05 UTC today (Monday January 30th) the crew headed up by Iker Martínez passed Horsburgh Light, the point where the South China Sea begins. More stable conditions are expected from here, but incredibly difficult ones: strong headwinds that will mean that the Spanish boat is expecting a long upwind slog to Sanya (China).
"Telefónica” entered the Malacca Strait last Friday, 27th of January and from that moment on, the crew has defended the lead on this second stage of the third leg in the Volvo Ocean Race. In total the boat took some 75 hours and 55 minutes – over three days of racing, to put the 'hellish' Malacca Strait behind them and to get back into racing on the high seas.
Antonio Cuervas-Mons “Ñeti” explained that “we haven't slept much over the past few days. It's really hot, there are a lot of manoeuvres to do and there's very little breeze – which makes it a bit stressful, and has meant that the boats have all been very close together, but we can already see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
For Neal McDonald, these have been “intense days and we've had to work really hard. There hasn't been much breeze and we've been within sight of each other more or less the whole time. After some very different conditions and other various occurrences seeing two boats is incredible. We've had enormous wind shifts, tornados… all of the sorts of things you can expect to get in this part of the world, but I hadn't experienced them yet sailing.”
On course for China, upwind
It's hoped that in the South China Sea the conditions will stabilise and according to the reports, "Telefónica” will be facing medium to strong breeze with upwind sailing for four to five days of competition, a situation that is considered as incredibly positive on board the Spanish boat: “The boat is well thought-out for these conditions. We think that we have some great sailors on board, our sail inventory is good and we are comfortable in these types of conditions. I think that any of the three boats in front, leading the fleet at the moment could take it on”, confirmed Neal McDonald.
"Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons voiced the fighting spirit on board the boat with the exclamation that “We've got to keep on fighting!”
Who lives in a house like this?
After nine days of racing and now at the height of the Equator, the effects of the extreme hard work are beginning to show, as Ñeti Cuervas-Mons pointed out: “It's like a sauna in here. There are eleven guys who stink to the high heavens and the water is at 27ºC to 28ºC and the food is warm. It's uncomfortable inside the boat. The good thing is that we are so tired that the little time we have available for sleeping, we really sleep, but it's hard.”

Day 9 – 18:00 UTC – 30th January 2012
1 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 1,065.8 miles from finish
2 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +4.1 miles
3 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +9.5 miles
4 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +24.6 miles
5 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +26.4 miles
6 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +177.7 miles
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