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Volvo Ocean Race - Telefónica pull away towards finish line

by Volvo Ocean Race on 23 Nov 2011
Looking to the low pressure area - Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Maria Muina/Equipo Telefonica
Volvo Ocean Race is on day eighteen of leg one, from Alicante to Cape Town. The crew of Puma's Mar Mostro were weighing up their options today, Tuesday 22nd November, after dismasting in the South Atlantic, while leaders Team Telefónica pulled away towards the finish line.

Pre-race favourites Puma were headed in the direction of the remote volcanic island of Tristan da Cunha under jury rig fashioned from the remaining stump of the mast while their shore team worked tirelessly with race control to find a solution to get Mar Mostro to Cape Town.

'We’re assessing all our options,' said Puma skipper Ken Read. 'The bottom line is our leg’s over. To say we’re disappointed would be the understatement of the century. The boat was going great, the team was exactly what I always knew: awesome. This is a huge setback to the programme but is it the end of the programme? Not even a little bit. We’ll live to fight another day, I promise you that.'

Puma trailed Telefónica by just 31 nautical miles when their 31-metre mast came crashing down while sailing in 23 knots of breeze on Monday.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad, a four-time race veteran, said the Puma crew now faced their biggest challenge as they raced to get to Cape Town.

'This is one of the hardest things any team could possibly deal with at sea,' he said. 'It’s incredibly hard mentally. These guys are going to arrive in Cape Town pretty hungry, pretty devastated after a really hard mental trip, and have to jump straight back into ocean racing heading to Abu Dhabi. That’s tough but this is a tough event and I’m sure they are going to pull it off.'

Despite a healthy 96 nm lead at 1300 UTC over second-placed Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez said his crew were painfully aware of the fine line between sailing fast and pushing too hard as they punched through the 2,000-nm countdown to the finish.

'Yesterday it was made even clearer to us that the leg isn't over until you actually cross the finishing line,' he said. 'It wasn't a nice feeling at all to leave our closest rivals throughout the whole leg behind like that, 2,000 miles from the nearest coast and with no mast, but we have total trust in the fact that the organisers have the situation under control.

'Now we need to think about our new rival Camper. As we saw yesterday lots can happen in 2,000 miles and while this change in situation isn't easy we've got to carry on, be prudent and concentrate hard on not making mistakes.'

The 39,000-nm Volvo Ocean Race is renowned as one of the world’s toughest sporting challenges – and that reputation has been cemented with three of the fleet forced to retire from the first of the nine legs around the planet.

On the first night of racing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing suffered a broken mast and Team Sanya pulled out due to structural damage. Both teams plan to rejoin the fleet for the Cape Town In-Port Race on December 10 and the leg two start the following day.

Elevated into second place in leg one, Camper’s celebrations were short-lived after bowman Mike Pammenter was washed into the rigging by a wave, smashing out a front tooth and cutting his face.

'Mike getting hurt and Puma dropping their rig leave a bit of a whole in your stomach,' Nicholson said. 'It’s an extremely harsh moment for everyone. We’re still in the race, still got the hammer down and trying to see what we can do to make some in-roads into Telefónica. It looks reasonably straightforward from here into Cape Town but as the last 24 hours’ events have shown, reasonably straightforward can be anything but. With all due care we will get to Cape Town as soon as we can.'

Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team, lagging by 277 nautical miles at 1300 UTC, were racing to catch a front that would propel them to Cape Town. If they miss it Cammas said they could expect to be at sea an extra 24 hours.

'This front should take us to Cape Town, towards the East, and then a high pressure will grow behind the front. The question is, will we reach that front in time not to be caught by the new high pressure? We will either manage to sail on the edge of the front or we will be too late.'

Positions on 22/11/2011 at 13:02:33 UTC

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DTL

DTLC

BS

DTF

1

TELE

0.00

0.0

19.2

1939.9

2

CMPR

96.40

2.0

21.4

2036.4

3

GPMA

277.20

4.0

20.4

2217.1

-

ADOR

Retired from Leg 1

-

PUMA

Retired from Leg 1

-

SNYA

Retired from Leg 1