Volvo Ocean Race - Combat continues for Puma

Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
In the Volvo Ocean Race, after 36 hours of constant attack from Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) and Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP), Leg 6 leader Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg (Ken Read/USA) are facing another night of combat - but tonight the distances are vastly reduced.

Puma goes into a second night of pressure with a buffer of just 2.9 nautical miles over Camper, and have not extended their lead as skipper Ken Read had hoped. The pot of gold which they must be first to reach lies 60 nm ahead, at around latitude six degrees north. Here the wind is forecast to head slightly and provide more pressure. If Puma can keep the marauding pair at bay, the northeast trade winds could set them free, providing beam reaching at least until the first of the Windward Islands.

'It’s a question of when and if we pop out of this little Doldrums area,' Puma skipper Ken Read said earlier. 'Hopefully we will get into some pressure before the other guys do and put a little bit of distance back on them.'

The battle heated up tonight when at 1900 GMT. Puma, the most windward of the trio, were recording the slowest average speed in the five-boat fleet, beam reaching at around 10.5 knots. Just five nm to leeward, Camper was sailing fractionally faster at 10.7, while 16 nm further west third placed Telefónica had gained a mile in the last three hours and were making 11.5 knots.

Fastest tonight is Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) who are averaging 12.5 knots and steadily eroding their deficit, which yesterday lay at over 100 nm. Tonight they are 81 nm astern of Puma and are concentrating their efforts on reeling in Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing who are eight miles ahead. A tough night awaits.

Volvo Ocean Race website