In the Volvo Ocean Race at 1900 UTC, Groupama and Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg (Ken Read/USA), the only two teams to have avoided serious damage to their boats so far on Leg 5, were 38.7 nautical miles (nm) apart. Groupama is 223 nm from the eastern ice limit set at 47 degrees south/150 degrees west and once past the waypoint they will be free to dive south again without the worry of colliding with icebergs as they set a course for Cape Horn.
Despite avoiding damage to their boats, both teams have crew on board who are recovering from injury. Phil Harmer from Groupama has a damaged shoulder and could miss the next leg, while on board Puma, Casey Smith has hurt his back and Thomas Johanson has dislocated his shoulder.
As the Southern Ocean returns again in force, Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) in third are now 253.3 nm behind Groupama, nursing damage to the bow serious enough for the crew to slow the boat.
'We’re battling on and making sure we don’t do any more damage. We could push harder, but we think that could lead to further problems,' said watch leader Neal McDonald earlier today. The team has had two crewmembers in the bow for a week, patching up a repair. McDonald says they will continue as they are and monitor it carefully. 'Time will tell. It looks stable at the moment and, at the pace we are going, we are in good shape,' he said.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) is midway between the western and central ice limits, 1231.2 nm adrift of Groupama 4. The team has not had the easiest of Southern Ocean rides so far and were becalmed when they reached the first of the three ice waypoints.
'It seems surreal that the leaders are now over 1200 nm ahead, but it doesn’t faze us,' said skipper Ian Walker. 'Bizarrely, morale is very high on board despite our predicament,' added Walker, who believes Leg 5 could still be all about who makes it to Itajaí in one piece.
Those that are limping, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson) bound for Puerto Montt in Chile, and Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) heading for Tauranga in New Zealand, are making progress although the Camper team is concerned about a low-pressure system forming in their path. Their aim is to make the repairs to the bow without hauling the boat out of the water in Chile and return to the racetrack as quickly as possible to complete the leg.
Team Sanya announced today that after exhaustive enquiries, the boat will be shipped to re-join the fleet for the in-port race in Miami and the start of Leg 7. The team are due to arrive in Tauranga on Tuesday evening, where they will immediately prepare the boat for shipment to Savannah in the United States. Once the repairs have been completed, the team will sail the boat the 350 nm to Miami, arriving in early May.
For the leaders, it will be a further six or seven days of liquid hell before they are in range of the notorious Cape Horn, approximately 1500 nm ahead.