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Telefónica edge out Camper in final miles of madness

Team Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez from Spain finishes first in to the safe haven port on stage 1 of leg 2 © PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race
Team Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez from Spain finishes first in to the safe haven port on stage 1 of leg 2 © PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race

Team Telefónica snatched victory from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand to win a thrilling first stage of Leg 2 by one minute and 57 seconds and strengthen their position at the top of the overall leaderboard.

Telefónica celebrated crossing the finish line just before 1800 UTC on Monday with fist-pumps, screams, handshakes and hugs, after more than 15 days' racing from Cape Town to the secret location in the Indian Ocean.

Martínez described the run in as  “final miles of madness” with the pair switching the lead repeatedly, until eight miles from the finish when Telefónica stole the lead from CAMPER, along with their chance of leaping to the top of the overall leaderboard.

Martínez said it was a very difficult game of “cat and mouse” that was played in the dark while dodging atolls. "I've never navigated at night so close to the rocks and with so many complicated manoeuvres," said the skipper.

“A few miles from the finish we thought we had few chances to pass CAMPER and there were three or four times during the night when we were left without wind.

"It was all a bit chaotic but luck changed sides, although the truth is either one of the teams could have crossed the line first.”

Telefónica claim 24 points for first place in the first of a two-stage, 5,430 nautical mile race to Abu Dhabi. The Spanish team remain in poll position on the overall race leaderboard with 61 points, followed by CAMPER on 54, having won 20 points for second place.

Nicholson said his team learned many lessons from their close quarter combat with Telefónica, especially since his team raced Leg 1 largely on their own. 
Despite being disappointed the four-time Volvo competitor remained gracious in defeat, saying the right team ultimately won.

“I guess I sound negative but I’m actually quite disappointed in the result because we lead for the majority of this race,’’ he said.  “We had an amazing battle with Telefónica these last few days and then we got rolled about an hour from the finish by one rogue cloud. 

“Occasionally the sport can throw that up at you. Normally the good guys win. First of all Telefónica sailed a fantastic race, they really did, from start to finish. They were there to take the opportunities in the end. Normally the right guys win.”

CAMPER and Telefónica had initially flagged protests against each other following the nail-biting finish, but after discussions the teams mutually agreed to drop them.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG are currently in third place with just over 20 nm to go at 2200 UTC on Monday, followed by Groupama sailing team in fourth with 50 nm and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing fifth with 100 nm remaining.

Team Sanya continue to repair their rig at Madagascar, after being forced to suspend racing one week ago. The team are now focusing on getting in shape for the Leg 3 race to their home port of Sanya in China.

The boats will be shipped through waters notorious for pirates to a point off the Sharjah coastline in the northern United Arab Emirates in time to start the second stage of Leg 2, a day-long sprint to Abu Dhabi in early January for the remaining 20 per cent of the leg points.


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