The mighty Telefonica surges through

Volvo Ocean Race leaders close on the Palau We mark

Friday January 27th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and high res GRIB from PredictWind

Positions at 0706 UTC

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon SoG CoG DT mark DTL
1 Telefonica Iker Martinez 05 47.370n 094 39.970e 11.2 101 40.14  
2 Camper Chris Nicholson 05 42.220n 094 39.630e 11.3 88 41.61 1.47
3 Puma Ken Read 05 45.780n 094 35.820e 11.8 100 44.48 4.34
4 Groupama Franck Cammas 05 42.870n 094 27.900e 11.8 98 52.78 12.64
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 05 36.170n 094 07.480e 11.7 96 74.08 33.94
6 Sanya Mike Sanderson 05 31.000n 093 33.770e 11.5 92 107.94 67.8

Telefonica's tactic of staying north, allowing them to power down towards the mark, at times some two knots faster than her rivals, saw the Spanish team take the lead of this leg of the Volvo Ocean Race at around 1900 yesterday evening, the first time they have been ahead on this leg after their slow start, the result of issues with a broken furler.

However it is close with yesterday's leader Camper just 1.5 miles behind in terms of distance to the mark, still to the south of Telefonica, although the top three boats have all converged.

The fight to round Palau We, an island off the northern end of Sumatra, is not over though. With the wind blowing 15-20 knots from the northeast, none of the boats are able to lay the mark and this morning (UTC) they will have to put in a hitch to the north. So in terms of weather guage, Telefonica's lead is bigger than her distance to the mark and Puma is probably second.

Puma race was hampered yesterday when she collided with some ocean debris causing minor damage to their leeward daggerboard. The boat had immediately slowed after a loud thud was heard.

“The racing is still locked tight so there is no room for error,” commented Camper’s co-skipper Stu Bannatyne. "You have to be on your game, but it’s hard going. It’s more puffy out here than a 1970s perm, and things aren’t going to get any easier once we reach the Malacca Strait."

Groupama had a tough night, losing third place after spending 45 minutes trapped by a cloud. Cammas was pragmatic. “It’s annoying, but it’s just starting," he said. "We have to expect lots of unstable areas in the next days."

Once the leaders round Palau We at around noon today UTC, they will then enter Malacca Strait, when unfortunately the high res forecast has the boats being headed as the wind veers into the east. However once the boats have rounded the northern end of Sumatra and enter the Malacca Strait proper, there appears to be a virtual glass-out. In the Strait the current runs northwest at as much as 1.5 knots at this time of year. Then there are the oil rigs off the eastern coast of Sumatra and the Strait being the major shipping artery between the Indian Ocean and South China Sea...

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