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Groupama at head of fleet !

© Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
© Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race

Groupama sailing team and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand were at the head of the fleet after the six teams waved goodbye to the South China Sea with evident relief.

CAMPER were first through the Strait last night before Telefónica briefly went to the head of the leaderboard as they made a detour some 45 nautical miles to their south.

By the 0400 UTC position report, it was Groupama who held the lead by almost seven nm from CAMPER. The rest of the fleet was bunched behind them, headed by Team Sanya (24.2 nm off the lead) and followed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG and Telefónica.

Progress through the Luzon Strait was slow but at least possible and not the total glass off that the crews feared and speeds continued to build out in the Philippine Sea. CAMPER were averaging 19.3 knots last night in the north, while those further south were sailing progressively slower.

“The next part of the leg is about how far east you can get before you dive south towards the Equator,” explained Team Sanya’s skipper Mike Sanderson. “How much distance to the finish are you prepared to pay to sail east and how far does that take you?”

Like the other five teams, Sanderson and his men had hoped the sail east would be relatively cheap enabling them to then sail with much nicer angles down to the trade winds, but this is not going to be easy. “At the moment, it’s looking like it’s going to be too hard to get east and it’s going to give the fleet a very tight angle to the trades, which means quite a few more days upwind or tight reaching,” he said.


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