Leg 4 start – Paul Todd, VOR pic
Team Telefónica will lead the fleet out from Sanya in China and on to Auckland in New Zealand at 0700 local time on Monday (2300 GMT, Sunday), after Iker Martínez and his crew took advantage of an astonishing collapse by Puma to win Leg 4 Stage 1.

The Stage 2 start will be staggered according to finishing times on Sunday, meaning Telefónica will begin with an advantage of 02 minutes 34 seconds — their margin of victory over Groupama sailing team in a 43.2 nautical miles sprint that Puma earlier looked set to win easily.

Ken Read and crew built a huge lead only to sail into a wind hole. They were forced to watch the entire fleet sail right past them to eventually finished over 39 minutes behind the leaders, leaving the skipper angry and upset.

"I’ve never seen anything go so bad that started so good," Read said.

"We got literally a two-mile lead after sailing fantastically, parked in a hole and then watched the fleet sail by us a couple of hundred yards away. It’s infuriating.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will start third, followed by Team Sanya, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand and finally Puma.

Race organisers decided to split Leg 4 into two stages because of dangerous weather conditions in the South China Sea, with forecasts of waves breaking over 10 metres.

After studying the data again on Sunday, Race Director Jack Lloyd told the teams’ conditions would allow a Stage 2 start at 0700 local time for the first boat. The six teams will sail 5,220 nautical miles to Auckland, with an early ETA of March 8.

Telefónica was originally in third place in today’s race before Camper experienced trouble with an unfurled sail and then Puma found the hole.

"We were a little bit fortunate today," Telefónica watch leader Neal McDonald said. "We were going around the triangle inshore in third place and we were quite happy with that. Then all of a sudden Camper had a little problem and we were in second, then by the time we got to the statue down the other end we were looking good; then bad then good again and we held on."

Telefónica also won the Sanya Haitang Bay In-Port Race on Saturday and lead the overall standings by 18 points from second-placed Camper.

Team Sanya’s crew was in a positive mood after finishing in the middle of the fleet for the first time since the Iberdrola In-Port Race in Alicante. Ever since that first day of action in the race, they have either failed to finish or come in last.

"It was pretty full on, exhausting stuff but we’re very happy," helmsman, Richard Mason said.

"It’s the first time we’ve really passed a boat. When we passed Groupama, we were shouting ‘c’mon old girl, you can do it!’ It was great. Fortunately we had some opportunities in a transition area and managed to get past Camper and Puma, so it was wonderful to finish in fourth, and let’s hope we can stay in fourth."

The teams will start Stage 2 at the following times:

Team Telefónica: 0700hrs-00sec local (23:00:00 UTC Sunday)

Groupama sailing team: 0702hrs-34sec local (23:02:34 UTC Sunday)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: 0703hrs-36sec local (23:03:36 UTC Sunday)

Team Sanya: 0707hrs-32sec local (23:07:32 UTC Sunday)

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand: 0709hrs-13sec local (23:09:13 UTC Sunday)

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG: 0739hrs-17sec local (23:39:17 UTC Sunday)

SOURCE: yachte.com
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