Telefónica are poised to pounce on any mistakes by Leg 6 leaders PUMA and CAMPER as the top three power towards the Miami finish line in close formation, while behind them a second great battle develops.
At 1300 UTC on Wednesday PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG held a lead of three nautical miles over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand with around 1,900 nm to go.
Overall leaders Team Telefónica were less than four nm further back in third and navigator Andrew Cape said the Spanish team were enjoying the trade wind sailing and “smoking along at 20 knots”.
“It’s lovely sailing here,” Cape said. “We’re right into the trades, we’ve got 18 knots of breeze and we’re all in sight of each other.”
Cape said the Telefónica crew would do everything they could to close down PUMA and CAMPER over the next 24 hours of fast straight line sailing before the weather scenario got more complicated.
“The last 1,000 miles are going to be tricky but that’s still a long way off,” he said. “We’re just trying to get back into second, overtake CAMPER. For now it’s a drag race and we’re just trying to go as fast as possible.
“We’re right in there with the leading pack and feeling good about our chances.”
The tussle between Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team was on a knife edge after the French team eased past Walker’s crew and established a narrow advantage of less than one nm.
“The race is developing into two great battles,” Walker said on Wednesday. PUMA, Telefónica and CAMPER at the head of the pack and ourselves neck and neck with Groupama.”
Walker said he was comfortable with Abu Dhabi’s positioning despite losing out when Groupama made gains by sailing hotter angles overnight.
“We are happy to have some (lateral) distance between the boats at this stage. Being further south will hurt in the short term but maybe it will be an advantage in a couple of days’ time.
“The weather ahead looks very mixed and there still remains every possibility that the fleet will park up in light wind between here and Miami. Until then we need to try to stay as close as we can to the lead pack and hope something opens up for us.”
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