Volvo Ocean Race crews push the limits

Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
In the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, Puma is continuing at a slow pace towards the remote island of Tristan da Cunha whilst the leading crew aboard Telefonica are nearing the centre of the Saint Helena High. The team is watching the barometer carefully to gauge where they are in relation to the windless centre and it is very likely that they will have to gybe this evening to avoid being becalmed.

However, once on the southern side of the high, the team expects to have the first proper taste of the South Atlantic as a squall is expected overnight. Martínez and his crew plan to go as fast as they can, riding the leading edge of the cold front, which is where there will be less swell and the boat will suffer the least.

Yesterday, the crews of Telefónica and Mar Mostro were both pushing hard, looking for a leg win. Today, Iker Martínez reflected, 'it is so hard to know where the limits are when it comes to equipment and it’s so easy to overstep the line and to break something.'

Michi Mueller assists with the furling of the Genoa Staysail. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

As soon as news of Puma’s dismasting reached Team Telefónica, they immediately offered to standby the stricken yacht. In the event, this was not necessary and Telefónica continued towards Cape Town with a rather more subdued crew. 'It wasn’t a nice feeling at all to leave our closest rivals throughout the whole leg behind like that, 2,000 miles from the nearest coast and with no mast,' Martínez said.

Camper (Chris Nicholson/AUS) with injured crewman Mike Pammenter onboard, lost nine nautical miles (nm) against the leader at the 1600 UTC position report. But in the last three hours, she has averaged 18 knots, the highest in the fleet, and has gained three nm.

Twenty-four hours behind the leader, third-placed Groupama 4’s skipper, Franck Cammas is worried about missing the cold front. In a call to race headquarters today, he explained his fears: 'There is a front for everyone to catch, but we will reach it later than the other ones. This front should take us to Cape Town, towards the east, and then a high pressure will grow behind the front.'

The question is will Groupama 4 reach the front in time not to be caught by the new high pressure? Either they will manage to sail on the edge of the front or they will be too late. 'In that case,' says Cammas, 'we will have to decide quickly to cross the front and detour to round the new high-pressure south and come back to the north towards Cape Town.'

Martin Stromberg onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa.

Puma Mar Mostro’s skipper Ken Read shares with us the latest on their status: 'At approximately 18:00 GMT this evening, the ship Zim Monaco should arrive to our position to deliver 450 litres of diesel fuel. At the end of the day, we determined diesel is our lifeblood out here. With it, we can make water and make ground towards a given destination with our 15-foot stump. And that destination is…drum roll…the beautiful island of Tristan da Cunha!

'That’s right, Tristan Island. My daughter, Tory, sent me a fantastic email telling me that Tristan has a population of 275 people and is literally a volcano sticking out of the middle of the Atlantic Ocean 6.5 miles wide. It is the closest point of land, which we can re-supply and rally around the next part of our plan. No airport and no other way to get to the Island except by boat.

'From Tristan, we plan to have a ship meet us coming from Cape Town with its own crane that can centre-pick the boat up and place it on the ship on our cradle that our shore crew will have in place upon arrival.

'Oh, and the harbour is too shallow to get into in Tristan. We will have to do this in the ocean.

'On the ship will be our shore team with a 20-foot container full of tools and equipment and all of us, and we will spend the next four-plus days of transport to Cape Town putting the pieces of Humpty Dumpty back together again.

'The spare mast is being flown in from the U.S. as we speak and will meet us in Cape Town. We will need to get the boat in the water as soon as we get to Cape Town to tune the rig properly in time to do the In-Port race and next leg to Abu Dhabi.'

  Leg 1


Report: 22/11/2011 19:07:47 UTC































Retired from Leg 1




Retired from Leg 1



Retired from Leg 1

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