Tony Mutter on the helm as nightfall approaches. Puma Ocean Racing during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Cape Town, South Africa to Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Camper have snatched the lead from Groupama and Puma have slipped into second place as a high intensity and high stakes game of cat and mouse is unfolding on Leg 2 as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet edge towards the Indian Ocean.
Shadowing each other overnight Camper and Groupama maintained a close quarter tussle within about one mile overnight, averaging around eight knots of boat speed and covering just over 200 nautical miles.
It was Camper who came out on top as the sun rose this morning, averaging 10 knots and leading Puma by 4.6 nautical miles and Groupama sailing team by 4.7 nm at 0700 UTC today.
Chris Nicholson’s team made their move just before sunset last night, when they upped the ante by switching to a larger code zero headsail.
Camper with Emirates New Zealand navigator Will Oxley said there were plenty of opportunities for the lead to continue to change hands as the weather promised to be anything but stable over the next 24 hours.
'This leg is looking like a minefield, loads of very light and tricky weather patterns to negotiate,’’ he said. 'We just need to remain alert and focused on the job of getting to our destination first.'
Camper Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper reported that there had been a change in mood on board the red boat. He said he couldn’t quite put his finger on exactly what the change was, but it was definitely positive.
'Nothing specific has been worked on by the team, it’s definitely not over confidence, as there is no reason for it or anything like that just because we are at the sharp end of the fleet right now, but more a quiet focused intensity and unity, which is growing in the crew,’’ he said.
On board Groupama 4 the team reported near ideal racing with a flat sea and a reaching breeze until, as the depth of the night set in, the wind eased and Camper rolled them.
At 0530 UTC today Groupama Media Crew Member Yann Riou reported that the wind was building as the sun was rising and so was the team’s plan of attack – especially with big tactical decisions set to be made today.
'Things can happen today in terms of route decision,’’ he said, not giving much away.
Team Sanya have slipped behind by nine miles but remain in fourth, followed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Telefónica.
The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is heading for an undisclosed destination off the African coast, before being loaded aboard a secure ship, taken through to the Persian Gulf before being relaunched for a 24 hour sprint to Abu Dhabi. The move is necessary to avoid Somali pirates who operate out into the midway point of the Indian Ocean seizing over 1000 people in the past 12 months.