Groupama’s rapid advance on closest rivals Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has left Ian Walker’s men looking over their shoulders as they race to recover lost ground in Leg 6.
“It seems hardly possible that this can be true on every position report but that is what has happened" - Ian Walker, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
Fifth-placed French crew Groupama sailing team pulled back 50 miles on their Emirati rivals in the last 24 hours after Abu Dhabi found themselves in less wind than the rest of the fleet.
“The last few days have been mysterious as we seem to be plagued by lighter winds than our rivals,” a frustrated Abu Dhabi skipper Walker said as the gap between the two boats closed to 12 miles.
“It seems hardly possible that this can be true on every position report -- especially as the fleet is all in a line -- but that is what has happened.
“Groupama have been chipping away at our lead over them by bringing in these stronger winds and if we do not stop the losses soon they will be in sight.”
With the leading trio of PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand and Team Telefónica now almost 80 miles in front, helmsman Paul Willcox said their focus had turned to defending fourth position.
“Groupama have us a little freaked out,” he said. “They have been coming back strong over the past few days and continue to have good scheds.
“We definitely have our eye on the horizon behind us.”
Franck Cammas’ team, currently in second on the overall leaderboard, have struggled to find pace since the start of the 4,800-mile leg from Itajaí to Miami 10 days ago.
However, one team’s loss is another team’s gain, and Groupama’s advances on Abu Dhabi have provided a timely boost.
“Our deficit in relation to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has considerably reduced,” Groupama’s media man Yann Riou said.
“That comes as a source of motivation over the short term, knowing that one of the boats is almost within reach.”
- 5 May 2012Abu Dhabi eye comeback, Groupama seek 'magic gust'
- 2 May 2012'Smoking' Telefónica eye chance to pounce
- 30 Apr 2012PUMA extend as Abu Dhabi 'prepare for anything'
- 26 Apr 2012CAMPER prevail after ocean match race with Abu Dhabi
- 22 Apr 2012Everything to play for on way to Miami
- 21 Feb 2012Tactical minefield could force radical options