Teams Set For Points Scramble In Dash To Abu Dhabi
The five Volvo Ocean Race teams sailing in Leg 2 Stage 2 will be scrambling for overall leg positions as well as vital points on Wednesday when they reconvene for a 98-nautical mile speed race into Abu Dhabi (provisional start time 0500 UTC).
Team Telefónica and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand will contest the overall victory in a leg split into two parts because of the threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean.
The other Leg 2 finishing positions are also up for grabs, with 20 percent of the points still available after a first stage, raced from Cape Town to an undisclosed Safe Haven, that ended with a knife-edge victory for Telefónica over CAMPER.
Wednesday’s second stage will see the boats sprint in from an unloading point off the Sharjah coastline into the race´s first Middle Eastern Host Port at Abu Dhabi.
It could be a spectacular race, with forecasts of winds up to 25 knots. The course takes the fleet initially out from the Sharjah coast before turning for a fast run parallel with the shore. After rounding the final mark, the fleet will power directly towards the finish line at Abu Dhabi.
“This is pretty unusual,” said Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker, who is looking forward to racing into the team’s home port.
“We’ll be going for a bit of glory in Stage 2. They’ve done a fantastic job here and I’m sure whatever the result there’ll be a fantastic reception not just for us but for everyone.”
Despite their last-gasp victory in the first stage from Cape Town to the Safe Haven, Telefónica are not yet certain of overall leg honours.
Overall leaders Telefónica scored 24 points for that victory, against 20 for CAMPER. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG scored 16 points for third, with Groupama taking 12 and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing eight.
The winning team on Wednesday will scoop six points, with five for second, four for third, three for fourth and two for fifth. If CAMPER were to win and Telefónica finish fifth, the teams would be level on 26 points for Leg 2. In that situation, the tie would be decided in favour of CAMPER as the team with the best result in the most recent scoring opportunity.
“It’s a day-long race and we’ll be thinking about it more or less like an in-port,” said Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez. ¨We´ll have to be very focused.¨
CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson predicted that slick work on sail changes could hold the key to victory.
“We will need to change headsails for the long reach along the coast and then change again for the last leg to the finish,” Nicholson said. “Getting each of those choices right could be the key moments for everyone.”
PUMA skipper Ken Read, whose team are in fourth place overall after their Leg 1 dismasting, said the short race would be as competitive as any other.
“You won’t see anyone letting up and you’ll see everyone pulling out all the stops,” Read said.
“In the position we’re in we need the points,” he added. “It’s not that anyone can say they don’t need the points but there are a couple of boats up there that are sitting fairly comfortably right now, and we’re chasing them so we need every point that we can get.”
Groupama’s sailors had to carry out a minor repair on the hull themselves at the unloading port late on Monday. A more comprehensive repair will have to wait until the shore crew have access to the boat in Abu Dhabi but skipper Franck Cammas said it would not be a significant problem in the race.
"The boat had a crack on the ship,” Cammas explained. “There is a little plaster on the hull that the team had to fix. It's always annoying from a mood point of view, but we won't think too much about it. It will anyway be a minor brake to the boat's performance.”
Team Sanya, forced into port at Madagascar to fix a rigging problem, did not make the ship that transported the boats to the northern Emirates and will not sail in Stage 2, though they can still pick up points assuming they go on to finish Leg 2 Stage 1, as is their plan.
Organisers expect the boats to arrive at the race village between 1100 and 1200 UTC and fans will be able to track the boats in real time, with the tracker at www.volvooceanrace.com/en/live.html updating every 60 seconds.