Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race continues as Camper (Chris Nicholson/AUS) increases pressure on race leader Telefónica at 1900 UTC this evening. The Camper crew have been decreasing the miles on the lead that Telefónica possesses for the past twenty four hours and are now some 100 nautical miles from Martinez and his men. Nicholson has everything stowed aft and is pushing Telefónica as hard as he can.
Navigator Andrew Cape, has positioned Telefónica perfectly to the southeast of Camper and a significant windshift to the southwest this evening will force Camper to gybe bringing with it the threat of the windless centre of the Saint Helena High. Telefónica however will be perfectly positioned for the new wind direction.
'At that point,' says Camper’s navigator Will Oxley, 'Telefónica will be in more breeze and will have an easier time of it. At the moment we’re trying to stay as low as possible and go as fast as possible'.
Although the finish is now within a 1000 nm, Camper’s crew is still completely focused on reeling in the leader and for the first time in days, they are sailing in similar conditions. The team is realistic about their slim chances of overhauling Telefónica, but a breakage or a bad call would give the chasing team just the opportunity they are seeking.
'We’re putting enough pressure on them, we hope, by going 100 per cent so they have to go 100 per cent. When the front passes over [later tonight], we’re expecting gusts of up to 40 knots. There’s still opportunity,' Oxley explains.
Thoughts of records are still uppermost in the minds of the teams but although perilously high speeds have been recorded, it is now less likely that Telefónica or Camper will achieve the average speed of 24.85 knots required to break the record, at least on this leg. Over the last three hours, Camper has been the nearest to the required speed, averaging 23.8 knots against Telefónica’s 21.6.
Much further north and dodging round the edge of the Saint Helena High, third-placed Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) has been sailing in near perfect conditions for the last three days. 'It’s exactly what I was looking for when starting the Volvo Ocean Race,' said helmsman/trimmer Thomas Coville.
Leg 1 hasn’t been an easy leg for Groupama who made some early choices which left them trailing. 'Being behind isn’t nice and, at least, we are enjoying ourselves when steering and trimming. It helps to forget a few things' said Coville.