Friday, 30 December 2011

Nip and tuck over ‘final miles of madness’

After spending Christmas at sea Team Telefónica claimed 24 points for first place in the first of a two-stage, 5,430-nautical-mile race to Abu Dhabi. 

Telefónica stole the lead from CAMPER, only eight miles from the finish line. 

The last push to the finish was a battle royal, with the lead changing many times. Iker Martínez described the run in as “final miles of madness” as the pair switched the lead repeatedly. In the end Telefónica secured victory by just one minute and 57 seconds.

Cat and mouse
The rest of the fleet finished the leg in similar cat and mouse stile, changing places all the way into the undisclosed safe haven port. 

To reduce the risk of piracy, race organisers implemented a stealth zone in which the positions of the yachts were withheld for the latter part of the leg to mask the identity of the safe haven port.

Telefónica took first place then Camper second, Puma third, Groupama fourth and then a frustrated Abu Dhabi in fifth. They will respectively claim 80 per cent of the leg points for the first part of this leg then 20 per cent for the second.

Day-long sprint
The five boats have now been loaded on to a ship – a risky manoeuvre that has never been done in the race before – and are being transported to a point off the Sharjah coastline in the northern United Arab Emirates, from where the leg will be completed with a day-long sprint to Abu Dhabi.

Team Sanya, the sixth boat in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, was forced to suspend racing and head for Madagascar after sustaining rigging damage while in the lead on day nine.

Their current focus is on getting the boat in the best shape possible for leg three into their home port of Sanya in China.

Priceless cargo
So a ship laden with the priceless cargo of five Volvo Open 70s is now heading for the northern Emirates.

I look forward to bringing you first-hand comment on how the loading went and the journey north to the hidden location off the Sharjah coast.

Mark Covell

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