Ian Roman Photography / Volvo Ocean Race

Telefonica home first in leg four prelude

As Puma bombs after early lead

Sunday February 19th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: China

Team Telefónica will lead the fleet out from Sanya in China and on towards Auckland, New Zealand at 0700 local time on Monday (2300 GMT, Sunday) after Iker Martínez´s team took advantage of an astonishing collapse by Puma to win the first stage of leg 4 (after the leg was divided in two to allow some bad weather in the South China Sea to pass - more here).

The Stage 2 start will be staggered according to finishing times on Sunday, so Telefónica will begin 2 minutes 34 seconds ahead of Groupama, following their victory over Franck Cammas' team in the 43.2 mile first stage of leg 4.

The Ken-Read skippered Puma looked strong in today's first stage building a substantial lead only to sail into a wind hole shortly after starting the home leg back to Sanya. The US team were forced to watch as the entire fleet sailed right past them. They eventually finished over 39 minutes behind the leaders, leaving the skipper angry and upset.

"I've never seen anything go so bad that started so good," fumed Read. "We got literally a two-mile lead after sailing fantastically, park in a hole and then watch the fleet sail by a couple of hundred yards from us. It's infuriating."

Read added: "We were literally miles ahead. I don't know what to say. It's hard enough in this fleet not to give everyone else an hour advantage."

The Ian Walker-skippered Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will start third, followed by Team Sanya, Camper with Puma bringing up the rear.

The short prelude to leg 4 proper saw overall race leader, Telefónica holding third before Camper experienced trouble when their spinnaker refused to unfurl and then Puma fell into a hole.

"We were a little bit fortunate today," said Telefónica watch leader Neal McDonald. "We were going around the triangle inshore in third place and we were quite happy with that. Then all of a sudden Camper had a little problem and we were in second, then by the time we got to the statue down the other end we were looking good, then bad then good again and we held on."

The Team Sanya crew was in a positive mood after finishing in the middle of the fleet for the first time since the Iberdrola In-Port Race in Alicante. Ever since that first day of action in the race they have either failed to finish or come in last.

"It was pretty full on, exhausting stuff but we’re very happy," said Team Sanya's Richard Mason. "It’s the first time we’ve really passed a boat. When we passed Groupama, we were shouting ‘C’mon old girl, you can do it old girl’. It was great. Fortunately we had some opportunities in a transition area and managed to get passed Camper and Puma so it was wonderful to finish in fourth, and let's hope we can stay in fourth."

The teams will restart racing from Sanya in Leg 4 Stage 2 at the following times:

Team Telefónica: 0700hrs-00sec local (23:00:00 UTC Sunday)
Groupama sailing team: 0702hrs-34sec local (23:02:34 UTC Sunday)
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: 0703hrs-36sec local (23:03:36 UTC Sunday)
Team Sanya: 0707hrs-32sec local (23:07:32 UTC Sunday)
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand: 0709hrs-13sec local (23:09:13 UTC Sunday)
Puma Ocean Racing powered by BERG: 0739hrs-17sec local (23:39:17 UTC Sunday)


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