Overall race leaders Groupama climbed through the order on the fleet’s first night at sea on Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient, powering their way into second place behind chief rivals Telefónica.
After a slow start when the fleet left Lisbon on Saturday, Franck Cammas' team gradually hauled their way back overnight and at 0600 UTC were just half a mile behind PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG.
They closed that to almost nothing by 0700 and at the 1000 position report they were up into second place, within 2.3 nm of the Leg 8 pacesetters.
Groupama have an eight-point lead over Telefónica at the top of the standings with PUMA a further five points back and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand 10 points behind them. There are just two high-scoring offshore legs to complete, as well as two in-port races, in what is the closest ever Volvo Ocean Race.
Taking the most northerly track overnight, fourth-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were within four nm of the lead with a two-nm advantage over fifth-placed CAMPER. Team Sanya were at the rear of the fleet in the most southerly position.
"Right now we’ve got all of the players in play," said PUMA Media Crew Member Amory Ross. "CAMPER and Groupama are close to leeward, Telefónica even closer to windward. It’s a sight we better get used to, day and night."
CAMPER MCM Hamish Hooper said the boats had been trading fractions of miles back and forth as they reached towards the Azores in close company.
"Overnight PUMA, Groupama and Telefónica edged a few more miles out of us, and we are managing to hang in there with Abu Dhabi," Hooper said. "The good news is that pretty much all of the boats are still within sight."
Abu Dhabi's Nick Dana said the Emirati team were pleased to be hanging on to the three Juan Kouyoumdjian designed boats which excel in these fast reaching conditions. "The last sched had us losing slight ground on the Juan K boats," Dana said. "It should be a wicked week of racing in the North Atlantic."
Having pushed furthest south in the night, sixth placed Team Sanya this morning lay 17.3 nm behind leaders Telefónica. Sanya MCM Andrés Soriano said their first night at sea had been straightforward.
"We are reaching along with our jib up and a full main, averaging 18-20 knots of boat speed," he said. "The boat is going well and Aksel is quite happy with where we are positioned.
"One thing you can be sure of is that he and Mike will work tirelessly over the duration of the leg to ensure that we are in the perfect position to pounce on one or more of our competition."
- 16 Jun 2012Short, fast and brutal
- 13 Jun 2012Telefónica three minutes ahead at São Miguel
- 12 Jun 2012Groupama edge ahead as top three battle intensifies
- 12 Jun 2012Telefónica and Groupama tussle for lead on slowing Azores approach
- 30 May 2012PUMA formulating endgame plan
- 13 Feb 2012Boats back in action as clock ticks down