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Pressure is mounting on Leg 6 leaders PUMA as they struggle to fend off relentless attacks from CAMPER and Telefónica while racing at average speeds slower than every boat in the fleet.

At 1900 UTC Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG were the most windward of the leading trio, beam reaching at a 24-hour average speed of 10.5 knots in the North Atlantic.

Just five nautical miles to leeward second placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand were sailing fractionally faster at 10.7 knots, while 16 nm further west third placed Team Telefónica were making 11.5 knots.

The fleet’s biggest mover was Groupama sailing team, averaging 12.5 knots and steadily eroding their deficit, which yesterday lay at over 100 nm. Tonight they were 81 nm astern of PUMA and reeling in Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, who were just eight miles ahead in fourth place. 

CAMPER’s bowman Mike Pammenter said the tight racing was adding weight to the theory that the Leg 6 victory would come down to the final 100 miles.

“It’s been well advertised that we don’t seem to be the fastest boat in pressure reaching, but in the light breeze reaching we’ve been doing well so we’ve been pleasantly surprised about that,’’ he said.

“We’re most of the way around the world but we’re very much still learning about the boats and our competitors. It’s been an interesting ride.

“The last couple of hundred, it’s looking like light VMG and light reaching, so you never know. As long as we’re in touch anything can happen.”


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