Volvo Ocean Race: Less than two days to a vital finish

The evening shift onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.

Telefónica were preparing to lock horns with arch-rivals Groupama once again as the race to claim a podium position in Leg 6 begins to firm.

At the head of the fleet, with less than a day to sail, the US entry Puma leads by 1hr 44min from Camper, with a further 1hr 30mins back to Groupama, with overall race leader, Telefonica just 10mins behind.

Iker Martínez’s crew could only watch as Groupama stole third place off them yesterday thanks to a cunning move to the inside of a Caribbean archipelago that took the French team into better breeze.

But as the pair, currently occupying the top two spots on the overall leaderboard, came back together for the sprint to the next waypoint at Eleuthera Island at the top of the Bahamas, less than 11 miles separated them.

'I don’t really know about catching Groupama but for sure we’re going to try our best,' Martínez said.

Positions as at 0900GMT on May 8, 2012 - Leg 6 Volvo Ocean Race
'We need a little help from the wind and some opportunities. We have to be patient now -- we are just waiting for a good shift to be able to be back in the game.

'We’ve been fighting a long time in this leg, we have had difficult conditions and we’re not where we think we should be. But this is racing and we just have to try our best now.'

With three wins from five legs, Telefónica are still the form team offshore with a reputation for pulling results seemingly from nowhere.

In Leg 2 Stage 1 they edged out Camper to win by less than two minutes, while on Leg 4 they beat them by 90 seconds to take the final podium spot.

During Leg 5 they made an incredible 11th hour comeback to finish 12 minutes behind winners Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg despite having to stop for repairs just after Cape Horn.

However Martínez said clever tactics would not be enough to catch their rivals – they also need weather conditions to go their way.

'The conditions are so unstable that for sure we’re going to need a little bit of help from the wind,' he said.

'I hope this time we’re going to be a bit more friendly with the wind than last time. The most important thing now is to keep the boat moving all the time.'

With just 16 points separating the two teams on the overall scoreboard and three legs left, Martínez is aware that points are of a premium.

'We’re going to have a close fight with Groupama because they are the boat in front on this leg and they are just behind on the overall scoreboard,' he added. 'For sure every point counts and we have to work hard.'

If the boats hold their current poistions to the finish, Telefonica will still lead on overall points but by an 11 pt margin over Groupama, with camper still in third, 4pts behind Groupama and with Puma, just two points behind the NZ flagged entry.