Volvo Ocean Race - Telefonica's heroic attempts at a comeback

Team Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez from Spain is surrounded by support and spectator boats, in the Oeiras In-Port Race in Lisbon, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
In the Volvo Ocean Race, Telefónica had little reward for an exhausting day's work in the Oeiras In-Port Race, but despite their latest inshore setback, watch leader Neal McDonald said the team could take heart from their heroic attempts at a comeback.

Telefónica received a penalty inside the first minute of the race, forcing them to drop their spinnaker and complete a 360 degree turn -- effectively ending their challenge on the spot.

Ultimately, they had to settle for last place but the Spanish team never once gave up the hope of clawing back points, even when they were dealt another blow when a halyard broke and deposited their massive spinnaker into the water.

'I thought at one stage we might catch up but it wasn't to be,' McDonald said. 'Then the spinnaker halyard broke as we were winding it up. It snaps and the spinnaker falls in the water.

'It wasn't great timing either, but again we recovered without causing any great deal of problems. Good on the guys for getting back into it and then we weren't that far behind Sanya in the end.

'It was worth battling on. Never give up.'

Victory for Groupama saw the French team stretch their lead over second-placed Telefónica to eight points, though with two offshore legs and two in-port races to go the cause is far from lost from McDonald's point of view.

'It's not getting any easier,' he said. 'Groupama did a fantastic job today and extended their lead and now it's two places off shore instead of one.

'They are getting themselves into a comfortable position, but we are not going to jump up and down with being completely scared. There's a long way to go and a lot of places still on the board.'

McDonald was pragmatic about the on-the-water jury decision to penalise them.

'The judges looked at the situation and deemed that Puma were in the right and we were in the wrong,' he said. 'Puma and ourselves had been jockeying for position and just as the start gun went I felt we were in good shape.

'But within a few seconds of the start we got very close to Puma and I think, I'm not sure, but I think, their sails brushed our rig, so obviously the boats were too close.

'To be honest, I don't really know. I'm head down winding winches madly. Those situations are very close and someone has to be in the wrong and someone in the right.'

Summing up their torrid day on the water McDonald said: 'All in all, not easy and very tricky,' he said. 'It really was hard. We're exhausted and feel we haven't got much for our efforts.'

Groupama lead the overall standings ahead of the start of Leg 8 tomorrow with an eight point advantage over Telefónica in second.

Puma are in third, five points behind Telefónica and 10 points ahead of fourth place Camper.

Volvo Ocean Race website