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Turf war begins to play out

Mar Mostro's sharp bow cuts through the blue waters of the Coral Sea. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG ©Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Mar Mostro's sharp bow cuts through the blue waters of the Coral Sea. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG ©Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

The fleet is beginning to gradually converge as the eastern and western packs set their sights on the island of New Caledonia, the final major landfall before the Leg 4 finish in Auckland New Zealand.

“The battle of east versus west wages on but at the current moment the west appears to be pulling ahead” Amory Ross - MCM, PUMA


At 0700 UTC Monday Groupama held a 63 nautical mile lead over PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG as the breeze softened to less than 12 knots across the fleet.

In third and 110 nm off the lead Team Telefónica are leading the western charge as they continue to inexorably close down the leaders.

Meanwhile, the battle for fourth and fifth had intensified again with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing separated by just seven nautical miles.

Team Sanya remain in sixth with a deficit on Groupama 243 nm.

PUMA Media Crew Member (MCM) Amory Ross summed up the situation in his latest report from the boat this morning.

“The battle of east versus west wages on but at the current moment the west appears to be pulling ahead,” Ross said.

“To think that Telefonica has again converted an incredibly difficult position, starting 200 miles to leeward, into being just 50 miles behind us in distance to finish terms, it’s agitatingly impressive.

“But our turf war is far from over. That (western) trio still have a long way upwind towards New Caledonia and it’s there we’ll truly know how we’ve fared.

“The large island will serve as a turning mark for us all and until we round its northwestern corner to make our left hand turn towards New Zealand, there’s a lot that can happen with such radically different weather forecasts to our south.”

However, PUMA pitman Ryan Godfrey said he was backing PUMA’s easterly positioning to come good in the end despite the threat of Telefónica in the west.

“I wouldn’t trade places with Telefonica, no,” Godfrey said today. “Even the way they’ve been going, the way we’ve been struggling to find our wind, it’s a long way uphill for the guys to the west.

“I’d rather be where we are and taking the high and slow road.”

CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson said he believed the uncertainty of the weather forecasts over the next few days meant the teams had to rely on their innate sailing skills as much as the onboard technology.

“All the boats have every device known to mankind in order to help them find the fastest way, but at the moment its reverting to the basic rules of sailing -- go to Auckland in the fastest way possible and deal with the weather presented until we know more,” he said.

For leg leaders Groupama the finish line cannot come soon enough -- particularly for bowman Martin Krite.

“Still five days to go?” he asked. “When you are leading it is even worse than waiting for Christmas.”


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