Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) continues to control the fleet as the leading four tack every hour around two miles off the coast of Vietnam in hideous conditions. They are not free of danger. Gales are still forecast for the track ahead and the fight between Telefónica and Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) who has closed to 7.3 nm is set continue until the finish in Sanya.
With the finish line 443 nm ahead, less now than a Fastnet or Sydney Hobart Race, Telefónica is using a protective strategy and sailing smart to keep Groupama 4 at bay. The French can only hope that Team Telefónica racks up some wrong calls, while at the same time chipping away at the lead and also keeping a watching brief on CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) who has come steaming up the track showing blistering upwind speed overnight.
CAMPER’s crew have pushed the boat really hard overnight, closing to within 23 nm of the French. The team has trained seriously in the waters around New Zealand where 30 knots of breeze is a daily occurrence. They are sailing their own race, following their own strategy and are very confident in their boat.
Now 72 nm behind, PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) is slamming, smashing and thrashing her way towards Sanya, following a move that has misfired.
Read is despondent. He doesn’t think the split from the fleet made on Tuesday has worked and the mood onboard is very sombre. Read was expecting the wind to move to the right yesterday, but it was not as significant as he had hoped. His only course of action now is to cut his losses and try to reconnect with the rest of the fleet on the Vietnamese coast, which is taking the team straight across the strongest part of the adverse current.
While hopes of winning this leg have been dashed, there may still be a chance for Mar Mostro to pick off Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, currently in fourth, 23 miles behind CAMPER.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is also relying on those ahead to make big mistakes. “It is still pretty windy and bumpy out here, so we will remain mindful that things could be tired after two weeks at sea, including the crew,” comments skipper Ian Walker.
Twenty-two hours and 249 nm behind the leaders, come Team Sanya. With still 691 nm to run to their homeport, the team faces yet more days on the wind.
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