No let up on Groupama as the fleet blast south

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

Groupama sailing team continue to eke out their lead on the fleet as the boats power their way down through the Pacific towards the equator at average speeds in the high teens or low twenties.

The fleet has had little let up from the fast and furious conditions for a couple of days now and overnight life on board the carbon rocket ships remained precarious at best for the sailors.

Even Groupama watch captain Thomas Coville, a veteran of multiple ocean races, said the unending on deck fire hosing of the previous 48 hours had been remarkable.

"In a squall this morning, I think I have never taken so much water full in my face,” he said. “We had been a bit slower than yesterday, but at a tighter angle --then the wind went up to 28 knots and then..."

In his latest report from second placed PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, Media Crew Member (MCM) Amory Ross describes the crew’s exhausting environment as Ken Read’s team fight to cling on to the French boat:

“We continue to careen around the Pacific Ocean like an angry New York City taxi driver delivering a very-late passenger,” Ross wrote. “One minute we’re skipping down the face of a wave only just on the edge of control, the next we’re slamming into a wall of water on the bow, bringing the boat to a head-jerking and body throwing halt, before repeating the cycle again and again.

“It’s fun, but it’s exhausting, and catching up on rest hasn’t been easy.”

Chris Nicholson’s CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand find themselves in fifth after destroying their J2 headsail yesterday but according to CAMPER MCM Hamish Hooper Nicholson’s team have the sail repaired and are hell bent on making good what they lost.

“Being fifth in the pack isn’t entirely successful, we have a long way to go to catch Groupama who are now nearly 100 miles ahead of us,” Hooper said.

“For now they are gone, our sights are firmly set on clawing back the miles on Puma and Telefonica, at last sked they were both within 18 miles, which annoyingly is about what we lost when we had to slow the boat up for a period yesterday with our J2 issues.

“But these are the pitfalls of ocean racing. Knowing how hard it is to claw back miles bit by bit, it hurts to give away such easy miles to our competitors. I am sure they were more than happy to accept those miles with open arms and huge gratitude.

“We will be ready to accept them back if they give us a slight chance to return the favour. The next sked came in and we were the fastest boat, slight miles gain- it’s been a while but a valuable step in the right direction."

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