Volvo Ocean Race: Back up to speed again

Puma extends her lead after yesterday morning's driftathon

Sunday May 6th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Volvo Ocean Race charts courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (GFS model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0655:

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon Spd Crs DTF DTL
1 Puma Ken Read 20 55.480n 068 48.900w 17.1 282 704.7 0
2 Telefonica Iker Martinez 21 10.930n 067 56.980w 16.8 291 737.4 32.7
3 Camper Chris Nicholson 20 38.530n 068 08.150w 11.6 290 745.8 41.1
4 Groupama Franck Cammas 19 48.750n 067 29.230w 13.7 282 804.3 99.5
5 Abu Dhabi Ian Walker 19 43.050n 066 49.730w 12.9 279 837.9 133.2

In what could be one of the final defining moments of this leg, after yesterday morning's driftathon, so Puma was first to extricate themselves late yesterday morning (UTC). They were followed by Telefonica, on a track just to their north, and then by Camper, with Telefonica overhauling Chris Nicholson's team to regain second mid-afternoon only for Camper to regain it overnight, only to lose it again to the Spanish boat at the latest sched. But of most significance is that as a result of finding the breeze first, so Puma has managed to increase her lead from single figures yesterday to 32 miles at the latest sched.

As the leaders were parked, so backmarkers Groupama and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing managed to close to 59 and 72 miles respectively off Puma's lead, but as the pace picked up for the frontrunners, so it dwindled for the French and UAE boats throughout yesterday afternoon and evening, allowing the leaders to escape again. At the latest sched Groupama is back to being 100 miles off the lead with Ian Walker's team a further 33 miles back.

While the backmarkers have just passed Puerto Rico, so the lead trio are at present passing north of the Dominican Republic with Puma some 100 miles off the coast.

At present the high off the Florida coast is centred over the Bahamas and so the VO70s are into 15-17 knot northeasterlies, while the wind is currently building for the backmarkers.

Unfortunately there is more pain ahead for the boats with the high due to edge south to come and greet them tomorrow. With the boats obliged to leave Eluthera Island (to the northeast of Nassau) to port, there is no escape for them and if they thought yesterday's dead calm was rough, the punishment is likely to be greater tomorrow and into Tuesday. Over the course of Tuesday the centre of the high is forecast to move east but leaving little breeze in its wake.

At present the boats are all low on course. Generally the left side of the course shows fractionally more breeze so it will be interesting to see if the boats decide to leave the Turks & Caicos islands to starboard, before putting a hitch in to the north so they can lay the next mark.

The fleet are expected to cross the finish in Miami on Wednesday, but don't hold your breath...

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