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Volvo Ocean Race: Big spread on fleet as lead swapping continues

On Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race, it has been a case of go, stop, go, stop for the frustrated fleet overnight as all six teams race to chase down the same high speed front, but on varied courses now stretching 200 miles across the Indian Ocean.

On Day 4, Team Telefónica continue to lead with navigator Andrew Cape’s gamble to take the most northern course of the fleet paying the return of a 24 nautical mile break on their nearest competitor.

Ostensibly this leg is headed for Abu Dhabi, however due to the unacceptable security risks imposed by international piracy, the fleet are heading for an unannounced destination and will be shipped to a location just 24 hours out from Abu Dhabi, where the leg will be restarted.

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Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing trail in second place, having resorted to sending bowman Justin Slattery up the mast to scout for wind to help them remain at the pointy end of the fleet.

The move paid dividends, with the team sighting a cloud sporting a decent breeze that excited helmsman/trimmer Simon Fisher who shouted to his teammates: 'Right fellas, that’s our ticket off this pond. Let’s get ‘er done!'

The team have sustained decent speeds averaging in the high teens overnight. But Media Crew Member Nick Dana said the team were tipping that the more northerly positioned Telefónica would make further gains today.

'We are starting to believe that Telefónica’s slight course change to the north might pay off in a few of the latest weather models,’’ he said. 'No doubt their navigator Andrew Cape will be chancing their possible break from the fleet for big gains.'

The mood was positive and morale was high on board Sanya this morning reported Media Crew Member Andres Soriano as the team slipped into third place by 0700 UTC.

'Last night the breeze picked up and under a star lit sky we averaged 22 knots and after seeing the latest schedule report we have managed to come back,’’ he said.

'We are still averaging 23 knots and it’s looking like it’s going to be a beautiful day.’’

Frustrations were running high on board Puma’s fourth placed Mar Mostro as the crew grappled to understand the weather and impatience escalated waiting for it to improve.

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Navigator Tom Addis has been constantly hounded by the crew for an explanation, and is verging on giving up trying to help them understand. 'We could anchor for six hours and make out just fine,’’ he told them overnight.

Yet the importance of the next few miles is not lost on the Puma crew, with Media Crew Member Amory Ross explaining that: 'To say this is a major part of the leg is an understatement; it could possibly be everything.

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'The team that first breaks through the front, if any do at all, could be launched. Sayonara, Adios, Seeya Never. The team that gets left behind, well, gets left behind.'

In the south, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand slipped to fifth position overnight and Groupama sailing team continue to trail in last place having taken the most southerly course.

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by Volvo Ocean Race


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12:04 PM Thu 15 Dec 2011 GMT

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2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race

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