At 2200 UTC tonight, in the Volvo Ocean Race, the first four boats racing in Leg 3 Stage 2 were screaming towards the Sanya finish in a high-speed chase led by Iker Martinez and Team Telefónica. Groupama sailing team were holding on to second place, 30.20 nautical miles (nm) behind.
After an exhausting 13 days at sea, Team Telefónica is on the home straight with 91.2 nm left to run until the team crosses the finish in Sanya in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas/FRA), in second place, are 30 nm behind, averaging a speed of 14.7 knots, nearly a knot slower than the leaders. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand still keeps third place, 59.9 nm behind, but second place is probably beyond the team’s grasp now.
Rob Salthouse and Chris Nicholson grind hard as they put a reef in the mainsail as Stu Bannatyne drives onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China. - Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race© Click Here to view large photo
Slightly to the east of the fleet, and with sheets cracked, Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg (Ken Read/USA) have tonight swept past Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), the most inshore of the fleet. Read and his men are sailing faster than anyone, averaging 16.1 knots, while Abu Dhabi drops 10 nm and one place to fifth position, 88.6 nm behind the leader.
The first four boats are expected to finish sometime after 0430 UTC (1230 local time) on Saturday.
Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) has left the coast of Vietnam and has begun to position themselves for the final stretch to the finish, 295 nm ahead. Yesterday the team noticed that one of the top batten cars had broken. The mainsail was dropped briefly and two crew wearing harnesses were hoisted aloft to fix the damage. They replaced the car on the track in less than two minutes as the boat continued to dive off massive waves, after which the mainsail was successfully re-hoisted and a gorgeous sunset lit up the deck.
The team is expected to finish Leg 3 on Sunday around 1300 UTC (2100 local time).
Volvo Ocean Race website