Race back on as giant seas ease - for now

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

Leg leaders Groupama sailing team were within 500 miles of the infamous Cape Horn on Wednesday as the fleet hurtled east towards Leg 5’s major milestone.

With boat speeds averaging around 20 knots, the southernmost tip of South America should be just over 24 hours away for the French frontrunners, with second-placed PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG around 50 miles behind.

With the huge Southern Ocean seas temporarily easing, and under constant pressure from PUMA, the crew of Groupama tentatively allowed thoughts to turn away from survival and back to racing.

‘’Some 30 hours from the Cape Horn, Groupama 4 have found a sea which allows her to accelerate a bit,” Groupama media crew member Yann Riou said.

“We must also say that our direct competitor starts to be slightly pushy, accelerating little by little. So, we answer to them.

“We have entered a phase which looks more like racing than what we experienced for the past eight days.”

Telefónica slipped to 380 miles behind the leaders as they sailed cautiously towards the Argentine port of Ushuaia where they will stop to make repairs.

MCM Diego Fructuoso said: “We are sailing pretty fast (averaging over 20 knots), but the pity is that we could go faster. Pepe (Ribes, boat captain) has done a great job with the repair, ensuring that we will not have any problems until reaching port.
“On the other hand, the logistics are very complex and the effort from Horacio Carabelli (shore team manager) effort has been incredible.

“From the boat we told what we need and he has done everything and awaits us Usuhaia with a team ready to repair the boat as quickly as possible.”

After hitting 40 knots down a mountainous wave yesterday, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing broke their own record as Azzam soared to 41.5 knots under the control of helmsman Rob Greenhalgh.

“Two reefs, the J4 and one huge mother of a wave made up the recipe for our top speed,” said MCM Nick Dana.

However watch leader Greenhalgh, a past winner with Mike Sanderson’s ABN AMRO ONE in 2006-06, said safety still came before speed.

“It was not really our intention to be hitting speeds like this,” he said. “We have at least another four days of this weather and we certainly do not want to damage the boat or people right now.”

Meanwhile CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand celebrated reaching 1,500 miles to go to Puerto Montt in Chile where they will stop to repair bow damage.

“One more day down thankfully, and a good one for ticking off miles toward Puerto Montt,” MCM Hamish Hooper said.

“This evening just after dark Trae (Tony Rae) announced that we had ticked over the 1500 miles to go to Chile mark, however our 1500 party was postponed until daylight tomorrow so we can make the most of the occasion.

“Everyone is looking forward to this.”

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