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Telefonica joins the party!

Groupama approaches, bearing 287-degrees, as seen through a pair of binoculars © Amory Ross
Groupama approaches, bearing 287-degrees, as seen through a pair of binoculars © Amory Ross

As Groupama and Puma are still fighting for the first place, Telefonica has made a great come back and is now a serious threat for the first 2 boats. In Chile, CAMPER will have company in Puerto Montt as Abu Dhabi stops there to assess structural damage on the hull.

Iker Martinez’s crew started their fourth day of comeback more than a knot quicker than their rivals as they rode at the head of a weather front around 150 nm south east of the frontrunners.

Telefónica suspended racing at 0405 UTC on April 1 to fix structural problems, rejoining the race just 17 hours later.

Since then they have gone from being resigned to third place with a deficit of more than 400 nm to serious challengers for the Leg 5 win with just over 700 nm of racetrack remaining.

Their rapid advance has caused worry among the two front boats as they are forced to factor Telefónica’s challenge into their tactics.

“Today, our main concern is not our preoccupation of PUMA, but the return of a third competitor, which has begun to be quite worrying,” Groupama media crew member Yann Riou said.

“Indeed, Telefonica are coming back to the front of the race with a weather system tailored to their measure. To catch up over 350 miles including a technical stop, is saying that this is hand-sewn!We do not know yet how far they can go, but one thing for sure is that Franck (Cammas, skipper) and Jean-Luc (Nelias, navigator) are now forced to integrate it into their tactical choices.This session of match racing is finished!”

PUMA MCM Amory Ross said at some point today the breeze was due to swing behind them, allowing for fast downwind sailing towards the finish line in Itajaí.

But for now, the team has been left bashing north into a 20-knot headwind and big seas.

“It’s stirring some horrible memories of the start of this leg, memories none of us have yet had time to displace,” he said. “The uncomfortable sound of a bashing boat is only going to make our limited sleeping hours that much tougher. The breeze is expected to go aft at some point and we should start reaching north towards Itajai. Then, and only then, will the 700-odd miles between us and Brazil start disappearing at a likeable rate."


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