Volvo Ocean Race - There’s no holding back for Telefonica

Team Telefonica’s bowman Antonio Cuervas-Mons during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China.
The overall leader of the Volvo Ocean Race, Team Telefonica, are not holding back with Spaniard Iker Martinez in charge, as they have now gained some ten miles on the Leg 3 leaders, thus jumping two places higher up the rankings. For the entire afternoon, Telefonica has threatened the fleet from her controlling position to windward and, at 1600 today, she rolled Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) to take up third place.

Telefónica are this evening just over a mile behind second-placed Camper (Chris Nicholson/AUS) who in turn are 6.6 nm astern of the long-time leg leader Puma’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA). Telefónica’s strong position to windward could provide Martínez with the ammunition he needs to translate 14 nm of leverage into distance ahead.

Telefónica lost more than 10 miles on the leaders early in the leg while positioning themselves to the north, but navigator Andrew Cape was relishing in the fruits of his labour today as his team carved chunks out of Puma’s advantage.

'The [decision to go north] caused a lot of initial pain, and that might have affected other people’s decision not to do it,' Cape said.

'But we knew we’d get rewards in a day and a half so we’re pretty happy now. Two days down the road it’s paying back.

'If you’re winning you’re not going to throw away miles, and going north when we did was a loss of 10 miles instantly.

'Most people don’t want to do that, but we didn’t really mind because we were looking at the long term picture.'

Since 1900 UTC yesterday, the team has moved from fifth place, 16.9 nm behind Puma’s Mar Mostro, to third, and 7.30 nm behind the leading boat. It’s a 24-hour gain of 9.6 nm achieved by averaging a speed of 10.73 knots against Puma’s 10.26.

In the three-hour period between 1600 and 1900 UTC today, Telefónica’s speed continued to impress and she was the fastest boat in the fleet, averaging over a knot faster than Camper, her next target. However, between 1600 and 1900 UTC tonight, her speed has dropped and the trend has reversed.

As the fleet continues to rattle towards the turning point into the Malacca Strait tonight and clouds and thunderstorm activity come into play, all eyes will be on Telefónica, and what her next move is likely to be.

'We still have a tricky zone ahead with a lot of cloud action and squalls so it will be interesting that’s for sure,' added Cape. 'Keep watching.'

Volvo Ocean Race website