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Volvo Ocean Race- Attack and no defence - Puma slips back to second

by Sail-World on 19 Nov 2011
Foredeck crew reflected in long time wearer of Kaenon sunglasses, Xabi Fernandez, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. Diego Fructuoso /Team Telefónica/Volvo Ocean Race http://www.volvooceanrace.com

Team Telefónica’s more easterly track since rounding Fernando de Noronha on the first leg of the the Volvo Ocean Race has paid dividends, with the Spanish team sailing in more breeze and rolling smoothly past Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg Propulsion, into the lead.

Puma skipper by Ken Read, had initially managed to match the speed of his rival, Iker Martínez, but late yesterday the American team was caught out small, windless convergence zone, which left them powerless to defend against Telefónica’s advance.

Reporting from the boat overnight Read was typically pragmatic about losing his hard earned lead and quick to acknowledge his opponents’ superior strategy:

I have written this sentence in my head what feels like a hundred times now, knowing that I was going to do my blog tonight. And it never sounds good. We got our butts handed to us today by Telefónica and by Mother Nature.


I first give Capey [Andrew Cape – Telefónica Navigator] and the boys on Telefónica a lot of credit. They put on their left blinker at Fernando and never looked back. They committed to the high lane and by the time we wanted to start to lean in that direction as well we were headed and we simply could never get there.

But I must admit, we were quite pleased with our low road at the time. In fact, as the sun broke this morning we had a sched that had us a degree higher and a half a knot faster and we were thinking ‘this is just starting to come good for us today’.

That is when Mother Nature intervened. A cloud line started to appear on the satellite photo's which started to seal our fate.

To the west of that cloud line was a huge right shift and light air for (us). To the east of the cloud line or convergence was a left shift and more wind (them).


Bottom line, Telefónica hauling tail all day and Puma trying desperately to tackle small squall after small squall which shifted the breeze through a 50 degree range and literally sucked all the wind off the ocean at times.

Very, very, frustrating and (knock on wood), hopefully the most frustrating day for a long time to come.

I know the arm chair sailors are saying - why didn't you cover? Well, its not exactly that easy.

First we liked what we were doing. Second, it is a big ocean and when you can't see your competitor its hard to cover. Third, a lot can happen in the three hour period between position report updates.

And finally, we don't want to be reactionary. That is the easiest way to get reeled in from behind.
Unfortunately we are still paying for this mistake. Although we are now to the east of the convergence there is clearly more wind up where Telefónica is and the rich keep getting richer.


So we take our medicine, live to fight another day and don't let this get us down (sorry about all the cliché’s but none the less appropriate). Still over 2500 miles to go -- you know the speech.

Doesn't make it any easier though. No great speeches. No rah-rah talk. Time to get back to work and try and stop the bleeding first, make gains second.

I really wish I had something to talk about that was a little more fun.

Hopefully tomorrow.
Kenny











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