Groupama were back in breeze and in hot pursuit of a Leg 4 victory on Thursday after keeping the fleet at arm’s length through an area of light wind.
“We are thinking about the victory a little bit…but it’s far from over" - Groupama watch captain Thomas Coville
The French team were feeling the pressure late on Wednesday as they slowed to a worrying 10 knots -- seven knots less than second-placed Telefónica -- after hitting a weather trough north west of New Zealand.
Their lead was cut by more than 50 nautical miles in the process but by 0100 on Thursday they had picked up new winds, just as their rivals were starting to slow down.
“We’ve now found some wind, which is a much better sign for us,” said Groupama watch captain Thomas Coville.
“We are thinking about the victory a little bit…but it’s far from over. We will live in the moment, each hour and each watch, and we’ll see at the end how that plays out.
“A race is only over once you have crossed the finish line.”
After taking a huge chunk out of Groupama’s lead, spirits were running high on Telefónica -- and navigator Andrew Cape said they had not given up on their quest for a fourth consecutive leg win coming into Auckland.
“Anything could happen at the moment,” he said. “Groupama might have tacked too early, or might not have got out into the new breeze yet.
“They’re only 100 miles away and we still have the coast of New Zealand to get down – anything can happen there.
“There are still opportunities – not big ones, but there are still chances.”
Just 35 nautical miles separated third-placed PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand at 0100 UTC.
After PUMA surrendered second place to Telefónica yesterday, CAMPER helmsman Tony Rae said their chance of catching Ken Read’s men on Mar Mostro now depended on what the weather gods had in store for each team.
“It’s all about trying to wriggle our way through this light zone and hope we do it better than everyone else,” Rae said.
“It’s a tricky old place. Our chances of catching PUMA now depend on the angle of the wind and the amount of breeze we get compared to what they get.
“You’ve only got to be doing a couple of knots faster for a couple of scheds and the miles start racking up.”
- 27 Apr 2012Chasers hatch comeback plans as Groupama slip
- 9 Mar 2012Podium places too close to call
- 29 Feb 2012Relentless pace begins to take its toll
- 20 Feb 2012Slow start as fleet brace for tough conditions ahead
- 20 Feb 2012Sickness and slamming take their toll
- 19 Feb 2012Chasing two seek Stage 1 advantage