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.
Volvo Car Corporation signs MoU on strategic partnership with China Development Bank Corporation
Volvo Car Corporation and China Development Bank Corporation today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a strategic partnership. Under the intent of the MoU, the parties will evaluate a possible cooperation related to China Development Bank's financing of certain Volvo Car Corporation research and development programs in the area of efficient energy technology, as well as production facilities in China.
The main purpose of the intended partnership between Volvo Car Corporation and China Development Bank is to safeguard Volvo's long-term competitiveness in the global automotive market and to further develop and intensify cooperation within the Sino-Swedish automotive industry.
Stefan Jacoby, CEO & President of Volvo Car Corporation, said: "I am very happy to announce the partnership with China Development Bank Corporation, as it will assist us in realizing our ambitious growth plans for the Chinese market and enhance our ability to develop clean, efficient driveline technologies."
Rivalries Rekindled As PUMA Leads Fleet On Leg 6 To Miami
The battle for overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 intensified on Sunday with the teams resuming their bids for supremacy as the sixth of nine legs got underway from Itajaí, Brazil, with PUMA at the front of the pack.
Just 32 points separate the top four teams as the fleet set sail for Miami -- and with 30 points up for grabs for a leg win, the race is still wide open.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG enjoyed the psychological advantage of leading the fleet around the short inshore course and out into the Atlantic but with 4,800 miles to sail, any of the five teams racing in Leg 6 could see victory come their way.
A win in Saturday's DHL In-Port Race Itajaí saw Groupama sailing team close the gap to overall frontrunners Team Telefónica to just 16 points, while CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand’s second-place finish moved them to within 25 points of the leaders.
PUMA, just seven points behind CAMPER in fourth overall and with the incentive of racing to their home country, are also in the hunt after notching up yet another podium result in yesterday’s inshore battle.
Riding on the high of winning Leg 5, PUMA skipper Ken Read said his crew were ready to get back to the race course.
“I don’t want to jinx the fleet but it looks like we could have some really nice sailing,” Read said. “It’s potentially the first leg of this race that we can say that.
“It looks like we might get some downwind sailing out of Itajaí, we might get some nice trade wind sailing, and maybe some consistent wave patterns.
“Everyone’s really psyched to go do some nice sailing.”
Groupama skipper Franck Cammas, who has already tasted offshore victory in Leg 4, said he had high hopes for success in Leg 6.
“We can enjoy this leg a lot -- it has a lot of good conditions, a lot of reaching conditions,” he said. “It’s good for the crew, it’s good for the boat. I think we can manage our Volvo Open 70 very well in these conditions.”
Despite a disappointing result in the DHL In-Port Race Itajaí, Iker Martínez’s Telefónica are the form team offshore with three leg wins from five.
“I hope this is going to be another good leg for us,” Martínez said. “It looks like it’s going to be interesting from beginning to end so we’ll just have to see what the next few weeks hold.
“I’m very confident. The boat is even better than it was in New Zealand. We can’t ask for more.”
The Leg 6 start also saw a welcome return to offshore racing for Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, who had to ship their yacht to Itajaí after it was damaged in the Southern Ocean.
The boat only arrived in Brazil on Thursday and the team’s shore crew worked round the clock to give Walker’s men a chance to compete for their first offshore leg win.
“Everything we know about is fully under control, so let’s hope there aren’t any things we don’t know about,” Walker said.
Leg 6 is littered with challenges including tropical weather systems, strong currents, sweltering heat and the dreaded Doldrums.
The first few days of the race could be crucial as the crews negotiate a potentially violent low pressure system lying in wait in the South Brazil Bight.
From there on in the sailing should mostly be downwind in moderate conditions -- although the teams will always be at risk from South Atlantic squalls.
The crews must also take on the Doldrums, a constantly-moving area of low pressure found a few hundred miles either side of the Equator, notorious for being one of the toughest regions on the planet to sail through.
Once into the northern hemisphere they will face tough tactical decisions, trading off distance for speed in the sprint past the Caribbean to the finish line.
The boats are expected to arrive in Miami around May 6.
Team Sanya, who pulled out of Leg 5 with boat damage, will rejoin the fleet in Miami after carrying out repairs in Savannah.