The VOR fleet splits into 2 at 629 miles from Sanya, Telefonica still leading
"Telefónica” holds onto the lead in a fleet employing differing strategic options on the approach to Sanya (China)
Still in control of the fleet, “Telefónica” is holding onto the lead for yet another day and is now focussed on the move in closer to the Vietnam coast, where strong winds will allow the crew to sail the 629 miles left to go until they reach the finishing line for the leg, situated in Sanya (China).
The fleet has split into two and the Vietnam coast looks like the next objective in the sights not only of "Telefónica” but also of “Groupama”, "Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” and “Abu Dhabi”. American entry “Puma” has set off East, moving away from the waters of the Indochinese peninsular and putting themselves at the height of Sanya, a decision which for now has meant dropping back places in the rankings.
With the situation looking as such, “Telefónica” has gone for the most conservative option. As Diego Fructuoso explains, the Spanish team tacked last night to keep a grip on the fleet: “It had looked like this last stretch of the leg would be somewhat simpler, but it's not like that at all. We're on a purely upwind course which means that the possibilities open to the boats behind us are on the up. It's harder to keep them under control. Right now 'Groupama', in second place, is sailing to the left side of the course and the rest of the boats are to the right. We've tacked to keep the others in check. We can't let the fact that we want to beat the French mean that we risk dropping back in the rankings.”
Skipper on the Spanish yacht Iker Martínez updated us with news on the situation, saying: “We're calm but unsettled and we continue to lead. After the fleet scattered away from us we decided to go for a less risky option and to set course East, letting “Groupama” head off freely to the North, but minimising the risk posed by “Camper”, “Abu Dhabi” and “Puma”. The latter is the boat that has taken the biggest risk with a very radical eastern routing. It's impossible to say what'll happen further down the line…”
According to the position report released at 16:00 UTC “Telefónica” is sailing with 17 knots breeze from the East which makes it the fastest boat in the fleet.
For now the intense battle with “Groupama” continues, although the Spanish team continues to push ahead of the French boat and there are now 8.5 miles separating the entries.
One last push
In his report from the boat today, Iker Martínez explained that on board “Telefónica” the manoeuvres are constant down to the weather conditions that the Spanish team are coming across on the way to Vietnam: "Two and a half hours, two tacks, two sail changes and all of the crew out on deck because of a cloud with 25 knots blowing throughout…” It's no surprise also that the lack is sleep is starting to take its toll: “With the whole affair at the start of bringing the boat down off the ship, getting it ready and everything we started the leg with all of us fairly tired. I've needed much more sleep on this leg than on the other two. There's no doubt that I was tired before the start and it shows in the sailing, so now it's full steam ahead to China.”
The forecasts say that in the next few days, as the boats get closer to Vietnam, the winds will pick up, new that was received with optimism on board “Telefónica” and according to Fructuoso: “Our boat does very well in these conditions, so there's nothing to worry about. We need to keep a cool head and go full throttle ahead!”
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS STAGE 2 – LEG 3
Day 11 – 16:00 UTC – 1st February 2012
1 Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 629 miles from finish
2 Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), +8.5 miles
3 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +40.8 miles
4 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +78 miles
5 Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), +122.4 miles
6 Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +260.5 miles