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Cat and mouse for PUMA and Telefónica

Onboard Abu Dhabi © Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Onboard Abu Dhabi © Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

At the front of the fleet the pressure is on Groupama 4 and Franck Cammas who have just 24 hours to translate their 45 nautical miles lateral separation into distance ahead as they approach the windless belt of Doldrums.

"It is all about boatspeed and straight line sailing for the first four boats, which are now in the same weather pattern and beam reaching in east-southeasterly trade winds"


On board, the team is focused on teasing every ounce of speed out of their boat, sailing as fast as they dare to maximise their lead and give them the best shot at crossing the 300-mile belt of doldrums ahead and meeting the fresh westerlies that lie beyond it.

It is all about boatspeed and straight line sailing for the first four boats, which are now in the same weather pattern and beam reaching in east-southeasterly trade winds. There are no real options to the west or east and Groupama still has a better angle to the breeze and so is able to sail faster.  

Just over 85 nm behind Groupama, Ken Read's PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG is 30 nm to the east and seven nm ahead of overall race leader, Iker Martínez's Team Telefónica as these two go head to head again.

Chris Nicholson's fourth-placed CAMPER are still in touch, but Ian Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are now 224 nm in arrears.

As the fleet approaches the east African exclusion zone, put in place by race organisers to keep the fleet away from the worst affected area of pirate activity, thoughts of attacks are uppermost in the minds of the crews.

“Pirates initially make you think of a smelly, drunk man standing on a peg leg with a parrot on his shoulder. Unfortunately, the issue isn’t so comical,” writes Hamish Hooper, MCM with CAMPER. “It is a very real and present danger that everyone in this race is taking seriously.”    

Before leaving Alicante the crews were all fully briefed on the piracy issue and onboard PUMA’s Mar Mostro, the philosophy is a simple one: be smart, be aware, keep the boat moving and stay away from areas of high risk.


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