The top four boats are surviving rather than racing tonight as they close in on the central waypoint of the ice exclusion zone in the Southern Ocean in average wind strengths up to 40 knots and peak gusts over 60 knots.
All four teams have the same priority -- to survive the extreme conditions and get to Cape Horn in one piece.
At 1900 UTC leg leaders Groupama sailing team had throttled their boat back to an average speed of 18 knots, while 27 nautical miles (nm) astern race leaders Team Telefónica were travelling at a similarly cautious speed in second place.
“The boat could sail at 30 knots the whole way,” commented Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez. “But I don't think it would last more than ten minutes without falling apart like that, so we're going at 18-20 knots.”
Martínez said the waves which regularly break over the boat were one of the biggest problems and told of a lucky escape earlier in the day.
“Jordi (Calafat, helmsman) went flying from the wheel due to the impact of a wave and Ñeti (Cuervas-Mons, bowman) also flew and fell on top of him,” Martínez said.
“The (stacked) sails hit the wheel protection tubes and blocked it. It wasn't broken but we couldn't steer for a while. We were very lucky.”
Martínez confirmed the crew were concentrating less on racing than on protecting their boat and themselves against the harsh conditions in order to complete the leg safely.
“There's no doubt that the South Pacific pushes you to strive to be a better seaman,” he said. “Down here we put aside the 'yachtsman' side of ourselves to strive to be better seamen, as that's what's going to get us to Brazil.”
At 1900 UTC PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG were in third place having overhauled CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand who had slowed down more than the others to carry out running repairs.
Meanwhile, fifth placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were approaching the western edge of the ice limit in lighter winds more than 670 nm off the lead.
- 13 Apr 2012The big debate - skippers comment on Leg 5 attrition
- 6 Apr 2012Dockside with PUMA and Telefónica
- 6 Apr 2012PUMA clinch epic victory as Telefónica fall just short
- 31 Mar 2012Telefónica resume Leg 5, minus Ñeti
- 30 Mar 2012Telefónica fight on in spite of pit stop
- 29 Mar 2012Temporary weather window opens for leading pair