PUMA Points North
After a tense night with plenty of cloud activity and a few gybes this morning to set up the angle for the turning point at Recife on the coast of Brazil, PUMA Ocean Racing Powered by BERG has continued to hang on to the lead she claimed a 0400 GMT this morning.
Although Ken Read and his men have been able to put some distance between CAMPER Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) in second place and themselves, it is far from secure and the margin at 10.9 nautical miles is only just into double figures. Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) moving into third place at 1600 GMT is once again proving a threat to the American lead, although they have replaced CAMPER as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s sparring partner. The pair is neck and neck with Ian Walker and his crew on board Azzam as the windward boat.
CAMPER is 216 nm south east of Salvador De Bahia. “We’d be happy to be another 40 miles east than where we are now, but, at the same time, we are only 180 nm off the coast, so the breeze only has to shift 10 degrees further right and we’d be very happy with where we are,” said CAMPER navigator Will Oxley, looking into the fine detail. While the CAMPER team is happy with how their boat is performing, matching the rest of the fleet both in light airs and upwind, the crew of the trailing Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) are not quite so comfortable.
“We are putting a great deal of effort in, but it is failing to pay off,” said helmsman/trimmer Charles Caudrelier. The team are mystified as to why Groupama 4 is not performing and is now 75 nm in arrears.
“We’ve had a speed deficit during the start of this course, which means that we have fallen behind,” Caudrelier said. The crew has checked that nothing is wrapped around the appendages, even sending Caudrelier into the water to take a proper look, but nothing was found. “Right now, those at the front of the pack are tending to make good their escape, but we can’t really explain our deficit,” the Frenchman said.
With the trade winds yet to fully establish, there are still options for the French in the next day or so and Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez was quick to point out that although being the first boat to reach the trades normally gives a big advantage, it also depends on the stability and strength of the winds.
At 1900 GMT the five-boat fleet continued their compression as bows were pointed north, with a little over 1,000 nm covered since the leg start on April 22. From her windward position, PUMA’s Mar Mostro led CAMPER by 10.9 nm, with Telefónica 33.8 nm and Abu Dhabi 34.7 nm behind.