It was a case of ‘west is best’ as the fleet rolled into Monday with Telefónica, CAMPER and Sanya making modest gains on their rivals in the east.
The fleet split into two around the Solomon Islands in anticipation of a high pressure system lying below the archipelago – and at 0100 UTC the westerly group were reaping short term benefits.
The biggest gains came for six-placed Team Sanya, pulling back nine miles on leg leaders Groupama in the three hours prior to 0100 UTC.
Mike Sanderson’s men also clocked up the highest speeds averaging almost 15 knots, close to three knots quicker than Franck Cammas’ French team.
Overall leaders Team Telefónica, in third, and second-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand also clawed back some distance to shorten the gap to the frontrunners.
However it remained unclear as to which route would pay off in the long run, with each of the teams forced to play a waiting game to find out which would come up trumps.
“The next few days will be pretty interesting,” said CAMPER bowman Mike Pammenter. “The boats out east might have a slightly better wind angle and a bit better breeze but we have cut a big corner here. Time will tell and we will see how the dice rolls for us.”
Ken Read's PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG slipped a mile back at the latest position report but the American is not expecting any loss now to make too much of a difference.
“It looks like it will be a complete fight at the end anyway as all the models have us hitting a wall a couple hundred miles from New Zealand and drifting in at this stage," he said.
“But, these forecasts are changing every time they come in. There’s some complex weather stuff happening down there and it is too far out to really have a firm grasp on the situation."
- 4 Mar 2012Tensions build in east versus west duel
- 1 Mar 2012Doldrums dread hits Groupama as D-day approaches
- 29 Feb 2012Relentless pace begins to take its toll
- 27 Feb 2012Groupama keep gaining in race for trades
- 26 Feb 2012PUMA swagger on as CAMPER face threats
- 25 Feb 2012Sayonara Japan: PUMA pounce back