Rainclouds and squalls in and around the Doldrums zone have brought mixed fortunes for the leading pack overnight as leaders PUMA saw their advantage cut to under eight nautical miles by 0400 UTC today.
CAMPER with Emirates team New Zealand made the biggest gains, dodging the worst wind holes to overtake Team Telefónica and move into second place and within in striking distance of the lead.
At 0700 UTC PUMA's led over CAMPER was down to a fraction over six nautical miles, with Telefónica just one nm behind in third. However, the leading trio had all been slowed dramatically to average speeds below four knots, giving fourth placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and fifth placed Groupama sailing team the chance to make huge gains, closing on the lead by 26 nm and 31 nm respectively.
CAMPER Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper said the crew, headed by Australian Olympian Chris Nicholson, had made gains on three consecutive position reports to ratchet up the pressure on PUMA.
However with around 2,000 nm to go on the leg Hooper cautioned against too much celebration at this point and said the CAMPER crew were praying their good fortune would hold.
“You must always take the good with the bad and we aren’t out of the Doldrums just yet, so a certain amount of cooling the jets has to take place,” he said.
“But the longer we can be in good breeze and PUMA and Telefónica are not, the better it is for us. Our fingers are most firmly crossed that we can make it through these Doldrums and into the trade winds again unscathed and in front.
“For this to happen it will be a long night for the guys spotting clouds, and squalls, changing sails and maximizing or speed when ever we can.”
Contrastingly, PUMA MCM Amory Ross said the night had only served to confirm Ken Read’s crew’s hatred of the clouds which, not for the first time in this race, have left them floundering.
“We still hate clouds,” Ross said. “We hate them, and even the pretty ones too. They ruin our days and plague our nights, and they’ve just done it again.
“One massive, unavoidable green glob on the radar and an ominously dark splotch of horizon indicate imminent doom, but nothing can prepare you for the gut wrenching conclusion once it’s run its course and stolen your wind, hopes, and in this case—your hard fought lead.
“After the last dose of calm calamity cut our advantage from 35 miles to five, we extended on the trailing pair to see the margin of comfort return to the thirties.
“But yesterday was tough, and we spent much of it dodging rain on the horizon. Again our lead shrank. And now one final and frantic squall has left us virtually even with CAMPER and Telefónica.
“We again find ourselves moving food, spares, sails, and personal gear to the front of the boat in just two knots of wind, praying something will fill our sad sails and get us the blazes out of here.
“We’re all up and we’ve literally gone through every sail on the boat during the last hour, but it’s done nothing to prolong the inevitable.
“There’s not enough wind to justify unfurling a jib, so we sit, floundering under main only, keel canted to one side to prevent the boom from sweeping uncontrollably across the deck.
“Not very encouraging, but nonetheless, it’s back to the task at hand,” Ross concluded.
- 31 May 2012Race lead in the balance on nerve-racking final miles
- 9 May 2012Miami triumph for PUMA and Read
- 5 May 2012All bets off in final 1,000 miles
- 30 Apr 2012PUMA extend as Abu Dhabi 'prepare for anything'
- 22 Apr 2012Everything to play for on way to Miami
- 24 Dec 2011Nicholson's three wise men shepherd CAMPER into the lead