Puma leads out of Itajai
Leg six of the Volvo Ocean Race set sail from Itajaí bound for Miami this afternoon. Now the boats are back into the Atlantic it feels as if the race is on the home straight. But in reality more than 40% of the points are still available with four offshore legs and four in-ports still to sail.
Before heading out to sea, the five VO70s had to make a double lap of the bay off the Brazilian stopover.
The start at 1700 UTC was won by Telefonica and the Spanish boat maintained her exceptional pace to round the first mark already holding a 200m lead. However with the mark close in to the shore, after rounding Telefonica fell into a hole, whereas second placed Puma tacked immediately closing to within 50m of the Spanish VO70 as the boats headed upwind.
These positions remained the same to the weather mark with Puma in second followed by Camper, Abu Dhabi and with Groupama bringing up the rear after they suffered being the only boat to fly a fractional Code 0 on the opening leg. Telefonica extended once again until coming into the leeward mark they appeared to have a problem with furling their genniker and this allowed Puma to edge inside them to take the lead. From here Puma extended away, opening out a 1km lead as the boats headed out to sea.
“I don’t want to jinx the fleet but it looks like we could have some really nice sailing,” said Puma skipper Ken Read before leaving. “It’s potentially the first leg of this race that we can say that. It looks like we might get some downwind sailing out of Itajaí, we might get some nice trade wind sailing, and maybe some consistent wave patterns. Everyone’s really psyched to go do some nice sailing.”
Groupama skipper Franck Cammas, said he had high hopes for success in Leg 6. “We can enjoy this leg a lot - it has a lot of good conditions, a lot of reaching conditions. It’s good for the crew, it’s good for the boat. I think we can manage our Volvo Open 70 very well in these conditions.”
Despite a disappointing result in the DHL In-Port Race Itajaí, Iker Martínez’s Telefónica are the form team offshore with three leg wins from five. “I hope this is going to be another good leg for us,” Martínez said. “It looks like it’s going to be interesting from beginning to end so we’ll just have to see what the next few weeks hold. I’m very confident. The boat is even better than it was in New Zealand. We can’t ask for more.”
Camper skipper Chris Nicholson looked ahead at the leg: “It's not as simple as it might look from the outside. This leg has a really interesting set-up - if you get to the east of the others, you can sometimes get better pressure, and maybe a better angle. There is a fair bit of discipline required on this leg in terms of managing your overall position, the fleet management and your strategy. It's going to be a real thinking person's leg and I think we have a good mix in the team to cover this kind of situation.
“The team needs to stay positive and strong over the next three months, there are lots of points available and a lot can still happen. As for this leg to Miami, you never know where you will get the winning break, sometimes it’s in the last hour of the race, sometimes it is the first hour.
"I think it is clear that it may not be fastest boat that wins this leg, there are some key decisions to make over the first few days and also for the final few days heading towards Miami. Hopefully we are looking at some good conditions and some downwind sailing, which should be fun!”
With the ship carrying Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing from Puerto Montt only reaching Itajai on Thursday, so the campaign's shore team completed a repair at record pace to get their boat to the start line. “Everything we know about is fully under control, so let’s hope there aren’t any things we don’t know about,” said skipper Ian Walker.
The boats are expected to arrive in Miami around 6 May.