Groupama third this morning

© Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team
© Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team

Today may be the start of China’s Year of the Water Dragon but it is PUMA’s ‘sea monster’ Mar Mostro that is dominating in the Volvo Ocean Race having stretched their Leg 3 lead in the Indian Ocean drag-race overnight, with Camper second and Groupama third.

The six teams averaged speeds in excess of 10 knots overnight and extended the north-south divide, with more than 10 nautical miles now separating Team Telefónica to weather of the fleet and Team Sanya in the south.

It was the comeback crew on board Mike Sanderson’s Sanya who notched up the greatest 24-hour distance on the race to their homeport of Sanya, with their run of 254 nm helping them boost from last place to fifth.

But it was PUMA, situated in the middle of the fleet, who made the all the gains overnight, stretching a slim lead of just 0.1 nm over CAMPER at 1900 UTC on Sunday night, to a more respectable 1.85 nm by 0700 UTC on Monday.Attacks on the US team were coming thick and fast overnight, with CAMPER constantly trying to advance on their port side, and the French team Groupama pushing on starboard.

The pair constantly exchanged second and third positions, while their attempt to bring down PUMA was in vain.  At 0700 UTC CAMPER held second place, with Groupama in third, just  0.21 nm behind the red boat.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were more than six nm behind the leaders in fourth, Team Sanya in fifth and Team Telefónica trailed by almost nine nm in sixth after damaging their code zero headsail in the opening hours of the race.

PUMA’s Media Crew Member Amory Ross said it had been smooth sailing overnight, with each team fairly evenly pegged as the sun rose on the first day of the Chinese New Year.

“It has been a pretty benign start to this leg with light to medium conditions, sunny skies, and a flattening sea state,’’ he wrote from on board Mar Mostro on Monday morning.

“A few sail changes overnight and some small variations in course to maintain our lane, and that was about it for excitement. Everyone’s pretty evenly paced and the fleet is going the same speed for the most part through the first 24 hours of racing.

“We have CAMPER off our hip sailing consistently higher in the lifts, maybe trying to protect against Telefónica, off of their hip, though we cannot be sure. With Groupama just to leeward and Abu Dhabi dead astern it would be premature to sail high to protect against those two.”
With the first night done and dusted, the fleet still has more than 2750 nautical miles and many challenges to overcome until their expected finish at China in early February.

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