A tumultuous PORTMIAMI In-Port Race reduced the gap between the top four to just 14 points and left them scrambling to re-focus on what could be a key turning point in this edition of the race -- Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon starting today.
“Our goal was to go into the the last leg still with options to win the race. We are achieving our goal, but there are still three legs left to sail” - Iker Martínez
After scoring their second consecutive in-port finish at the back of the fleet, Iker Martínez’s Team Telefónica have seen their overall lead reduced to seven points over Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team in second.
A fourth in the in-port race for Chris Nicholson’s CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand sees them remain in third, now six points off second place but just one point ahead of Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG.
All four crews now know anything but a podium finish in Portugal could put a severe dent in their aspirations of lifting the overall trophy when the race finishes in Galway, Ireland this July.
Team Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez confirmed that with just three offshore legs and three in-port races to go, there was no longer any room for mistakes.
“You have to sail well; the difference in points is so small,” he said. “If we are fourth again in this one everything can change.”
Despite setbacks in their last three points scoring opportunities, Martínez said the Spanish team were still bang on track against the goal they set long before this edition of the race even started.
“We spent a lot of time before arriving here, more than two years work,” he said.
“Our goal was to go into the the last leg still with options to win the race. Today we are achieving our goal, but there are still three legs left to sail.”
Although they took their third in-port race win in Miami, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team remain spectators to the scrap for the overall podium places which skipper Ian Walker described as now being “genuinely wide open” going into the transatlantic leg.
“There are hardly any points between those leading boats,” Walker said. “I’m sure Iker is not sitting there feeling too comfortable now.”
“This is a transatlantic crossing, if one boat makes a big slip up in the leading three or four boats, or if someone breaks something, you’re getting to the stage where you might not recover.
“For sure, it’s anyone’s race for those top four boats,” he said. “I wish I was there fighting it out, it is one hell of a battle. Our job now is to get in their way and try and take as many points as possible.”
Second placed Groupama skipper Franck Cammas said he and his crew were focused on making continuous improvements to their performance and said the French team “still had a lot to learn” about their boat.
“These boats are very complicated, there is a lot of tuning to do,” Cammas said. “It’s very interesting with the configuration. Sometimes it’s very different even if with just a small change in the wind angle.
This is our first entry in the Volvo Ocean race and we still have a lot to learn,” he said. “It’s a close fight and there is no easy way, you just have to do your best and see.
“We have to stay here in the top few and it is not easy. It’s a big challenge.”
Having won the leg into Miami and snatched third place from CAMPER on the finish line of the in-port race to close within a point of them in the overall standings, Ken Read says he feels the momentum is going the American team’s way.
However, Read also said that “momentum can be fleeting” and with everything up grabs between now and the finish of the race, the final result was far from certain.
“Momentum is a wonderful thing -- until it’s gone,” he said. “It’s great to talk about momentum, because that means you’ve done something great in the past, but the past is the past and we have no idea what’s going to happen in the future.”
Despite being denied a podium place in the in-port race by Read, CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson said he was looking forward to the transatlantic race which he believed would suit his team’s style.
“We’re hoping for a bit of everything,” Nicholson said. “But not too much jib reaching. I think as long as that doesn’t come into play, we’ll be fine.
“I’ve done six or seven transatlantics and they can be quite nasty, but at the moment it doesn't look too bad. The most we’ll see is maybe 20 to 30 knots downwind, but these boats don’t take a lot to light up, so in 20 to 30 knots they’ll still be a handful.”
Leg 7 to Lisbon will start from Miami at 1300 local time (1700 UTC) and is expected to take the fleet around 11 days to complete.
- 31 May 2012Race lead in the balance on nerve-racking final miles
- 22 May 2012Chasing pack close on Groupama as winds soften
- 18 May 2012Four in-ports, three legs, too close to call
- 15 May 2012Teams eye Miami points grab ahead of Atlantic crossing
- 22 Apr 2012Everything to play for on way to Miami
- 13 Apr 2012The big debate - skippers comment on Leg 5 attrition