Volvo Ocean Race: Attack and no defence - Puma slips back to second

Foredeck crew reflected in long time wearer of Kaenon sunglasses, Xabi Fernandez, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa.

Team Telefónica’s more easterly track since rounding Fernando de Noronha on the first leg of the the Volvo Ocean Race has paid dividends, with the Spanish team sailing in more breeze and rolling smoothly past Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg Propulsion, into the lead.

Puma skipper by Ken Read, had initially managed to match the speed of his rival, Iker Martínez, but late yesterday the American team was caught out small, windless convergence zone, which left them powerless to defend against Telefónica’s advance.

Reporting from the boat overnight Read was typically pragmatic about losing his hard earned lead and quick to acknowledge his opponents’ superior strategy:

I have written this sentence in my head what feels like a hundred times now, knowing that I was going to do my blog tonight. And it never sounds good. We got our butts handed to us today by Telefónica and by Mother Nature.

Joao Signorini onboard Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)

I first give Capey [Andrew Cape – Telefónica Navigator] and the boys on Telefónica a lot of credit. They put on their left blinker at Fernando and never looked back. They committed to the high lane and by the time we wanted to start to lean in that direction as well we were headed and we simply could never get there.

But I must admit, we were quite pleased with our low road at the time. In fact, as the sun broke this morning we had a sched that had us a degree higher and a half a knot faster and we were thinking ‘this is just starting to come good for us today’.

That is when Mother Nature intervened. A cloud line started to appear on the satellite photo's which started to seal our fate.

To the west of that cloud line was a huge right shift and light air for (us). To the east of the cloud line or convergence was a left shift and more wind (them).

The crew look on at Fernando de Noronha Island onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Bottom line, Telefónica hauling tail all day and Puma trying desperately to tackle small squall after small squall which shifted the breeze through a 50 degree range and literally sucked all the wind off the ocean at times.

Very, very, frustrating and (knock on wood), hopefully the most frustrating day for a long time to come.

I know the arm chair sailors are saying - why didn't you cover? Well, its not exactly that easy.

First we liked what we were doing. Second, it is a big ocean and when you can't see your competitor its hard to cover. Third, a lot can happen in the three hour period between position report updates.

And finally, we don't want to be reactionary. That is the easiest way to get reeled in from behind.
Unfortunately we are still paying for this mistake. Although we are now to the east of the convergence there is clearly more wind up where Telefónica is and the rich keep getting richer.

Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)

So we take our medicine, live to fight another day and don't let this get us down (sorry about all the cliché’s but none the less appropriate). Still over 2500 miles to go -- you know the speech.

Doesn't make it any easier though. No great speeches. No rah-rah talk. Time to get back to work and try and stop the bleeding first, make gains second.

I really wish I had something to talk about that was a little more fun.

Hopefully tomorrow.
Kenny


Brad Jackson on the helm somewhere off Brazil. 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)

Tom Addis and Ken Read discuss weather at the Navigation Station. 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)

Navigator Will Oxley in the Nav Station onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Navigation maps show CAMPER Just about crossing the equator CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Daryl Wislang manages to sleep despite the clutter and heat onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Stuart Bannatyne sleeping during his off watch onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Tom Addis and Ken Read discuss weather at the Nav station. 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)

Rome Kirby onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG's "Mar Mostro" 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)


Cleaning foul weather gear onboard Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)
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