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Telefónica make it three from three with Sanya victory

Team Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez from Spain finishes first on leg 3 © Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race
Team Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez from Spain finishes first on leg 3 © Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race

Team Telefónica became the first team to win the first three legs of a Volvo Ocean Race in 22 years as they swept to glory in Leg 3 from Abu Dhabi to Sanya.

Not since Sir Peter Blake’s Steinlager 2 made a clean sweep of all four legs of the 1989-90 edition of the Whitbread Round the World Race has the event seen such success.

Cheers went up from the Telefónica crew, led by Spanish Olympian, as they blasted across the finish line of Leg 3 Stage 2 in Sanya, China, at 0400 UTC to claim 24 points.

Coupled with the three points they scored for the first part of the leg, a 100 nautical mile dash from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah, the win hands Telefónica overall glory in Leg 3 and propels them to 95 points.

"That was a toughie!" said navigator Andrew Cape, moments after crossing the line. "I certainly won’t get used to it to winning, it won’t last forever. We’re taking it one leg at a time. It’s a good win, we’re very happy.

"Right from the top of Sumatra it’s been really difficult. There were so many hazards and you can’t take your eye off the ball for one second because that’s when bad things happen.

"It was a very taxing leg, a lot harder than I expected. Everyone is ecstatic – we’re all happy to be here and very relieved."

Thousands of people lined the dock and packed the race village to welcome the team into Sanya, the first stopover in the Chinese port in the race’s 38-year history.

Damage to the team’s huge Code Zero headsail hours after starting the leg relegated Telefónica to last place but the savvy sailors picked their way back into contention with clever tactics and blistering boat speed.

After taking a more northerly course on the drag race east across the Bay of Bengal, Telefónica snatched the front spot from leg leaders PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG on January 26 and despite constant attacks from Groupama sailing team, who at one point were within one mile of the leaders, held off their rivals to take the win.

Groupama are expected to cross the finish line around 0358 UTC to take second place and 20 points.


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