Telefonica dominates Sanya In-Port Race
Team Telefónica demolished the opposition in today's Sanya Haitang Bay In-Port Race enabling the Spanish team to extend their overall lead in the Volvo Ocean Race to 18 points going into the start of leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland.
Flat waters and winds gusting up to 20 knots provided perfect conditions for the Volvo Ocean Race's fourth in-port, allowing the teams to put on a spectacular show for the thousands of spectators who turned out to watch the action over a fast 10.8 nautical mile course.
Telefónica went into the race under some pressure after a last minute change of rig and with two poor performances in the three previous in-port races. But a tactical decision to be the first to tack in from the left on the first beat saw them to pull ahead of the six strong fleet. Despite a challenge from Puma Ocean Racing when the jib sheet on the Spanish boat got caught under their kite after their drop at the leeward gate. With Puma slickly rounding the gate, the US team pulled level but ultimately the Spanish surged ahead once again to to seal another valuable win, finishing 41 seconds ahead of Puma. It was the second victory in four in-port races for Iker Martínez’s team, which has also won all three offshore legs.
"Today the tactics were what made the difference," said Martínez. "We were really in the right place for the upwind legs and the first downwind too. Even if we weren't great at manoeuvres, we were in the right place and that's what mattered."
Puma skipper Ken Read added: "We’re very pleased with our finish today. The boat felt good, the guys did a great job, and Kelvin had two good shifts in the first beat that really determined the race. A fleet like this has no slouches, so we’ll take our second and build on it.
“We didn’t have a great start, and I think that kind of sealed our fate a bit with Telefónica. The two of us had a nice little battle today – it felt like a really good boat race. They gave us very little chance to get by, as you would expect from them, so I give them credit."
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing had got off to the best start and led for the initial part of the first beat. The UAE team led by Ian Walker took the third podium place four minutes and 20 seconds behind the leaders. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand had a disappointing race trailing the fleet for much of the race but managing to pull up from sixth to fourth.
Camper skipper Chris Nicholson commented: "We wanted to do better than that today, we got out of the start in good shape, then there was a big shift to the right, which we didn't get onto and we were caught right at the back at the top mark. However we fought our way back through the fleet but there wasn’t enough time to close the gap. I am looking forward to getting going tomorrow, we will have to wait until next leg to get the points back on Telefónica.”
Mike Sanderson’s hometown heroes on Team Sanya were slow out of the start and at one stage pulled up to third, but eventually they were just edged back down into sixth by Franck Cammas’ Groupama.
The overall rankings remain unchanged. Telefónica now lead with 101 points, followed by CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on 83 and Groupama sailing team on 73. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG have 53, followed by Abu Dhabi on 43 and Team Sanya on 17.
Sanya Haitang Bay In-Port Race results:
1. Team Telefónica 58 minutes 37 seconds
2. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG +0:41 seconds
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing +4 minutes 20 seconds
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand +5:35
5. Groupama sailing team +6:51
6. Team Sanya: +7:13
From Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race:
From Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race: