Hugo Boss (Photo courtesy Barcelona World Race)

After leading the Barcelona World Race since the first full day of racing, for most of 14 days and having recently extended their lead on the water to what the skippers estimated to be around 60 miles, pre-race favourites Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes on their IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss, were dismasted on last night (Wednesday) in the South Atlantic ocean in relatively moderate wind conditions.
The English-Spanish duo are heading to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, under engine. Making around 6 knots with enough to fuel to get most of the 370 miles west to the Brazilian port should which should take around three days. The duo had already set a new record in the Mediterranean for the passage from Barcelona to Gibraltar and a course record to the Equator.Thomson, 40, and Ribes, 43, were making a sail change when it is believed that the central pin in the headsail furling drum sheared while the British skipper was right beside it, leaving the mast unsupported from the front of the boat. He had to watch helplessly as the mast and sails fell backwards, the mast itself breaking after it landed resting half on the boat and half out.

Stewart Hosford, Director of Alex Thomson Racing, explained what happened:

“ The guys were both on deck. They were putting the jib top up and taking the J1 (headsail) off. Alex was up on the foredeck, Pepe was at the mast helping him out. The furling drum, which holds the J2 to the deck and is a fixed stay sheared, the main steel pin in the drum sheared, and so because they were in the middle of changing from the J1 to the J2 there was only one forestay up at that time, for that brief period. That meant the furling drum was unsupported. Alex said that it was like slow motion from there, the mast fell backwards into the water and rested on the stanchions and the daggerboard. At that point the mast broke. And it was gone pretty much immediately. It did not break on the way down. It ended up sitting half in the boat and half out and at that point it broke. There is none of the mast left.”
Thomson and Ribes had been sailing in moderate easterly breezes and big seas when the accident happened, right before his eyes. He recalls
“I was looking backwards as Pepe was bringing a sail to me to plug in behind me and all of a sudden I saw this just break. All of a sudden I saw this just break, the (furling) drum just blew up in the air and the sail with it. I looked up and instinctively I knew the mast was going to fall down. It kind of hovered there for a few seconds and then fell backwards into the water. Within a couple of minutes the mast broke in two where it was hinged over the boat. Pepe did a great job with the grinder cutting it away before the mast made a hole inside the boat in the big waves we had. It is extremely disappointing. We were leading the race by 60 miles, we had broken the record to Gibraltar.”
“We felt we were in control of the race. Yes we had made a couple of minor mistakes, but really we were performing brilliantly. I am disappointed for our team, for Pepe, for all of us. It is heart wrenching when these things happen.”

By 1600hrs UTC Thursday Hugo Bos s was at 280 miles west of Salvador de Bahia, making 6.3kts.

Both of the closest rivals to Hugo Boss paid warm tributes to the British-Spanish duo. Guillermo Altadill (ESP) of Neutrogena, with whom Thomson took second in a two handed Transat Jacques Vabre race in 2011, said:
As the Spanish popular song says “when a friend leaves, something dies in your soul”, and that’s how we feel today. Alex and Pepe are our adversaries, we´ve fought with them and competed in the water, but we wanted this to continue up to the finish line. Because when an opponent leaves, this means there is one less of us that can help when things get tough. The history of ocean racing tells stories about epic and supportive rescues between competitors; you can ask Alex or Jean Lecam, their own opponents and also friends, were those who pulled them out from the claws of the common enemy we all have to compete against, the Ocean and its forces. Alex and Pepe if it’s any consolation I never doubted that this race was yours and the only way yo u could get it snatched, by the adversity we all fight in this sport, that common enemy that waits for us in every downpour, gust of wind or at the end of each wave we surf.”

And from new race leaders Cheminées Poujoulat, Swiss co-skipper Bernard Stamm – himself no stranger to bad luck and adversity and a long long time rival of Thomson’s said:

First and foremost we are sorry for him. And for the race too, I am sorry, because it loses the favourite. We have lost a strong rival and that is sad. From our point of view we try to sail safely so this kind of thing does not happen. But it confirms again not to take risks.”

The race goes on
Cheminées Poujoulat take over the lead of the Barcelona World Race with a narrow margin over Neutrogena. Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat are slightly slower than Altadill and José Munoz but the two Farr designs are racing side by side 22 miles apart west-east as they start to negotiate the Saint Helena high pressure zone’s western side. They will have lighter winds though tomorrow before breaking into the N’lies which will slingshot them south faster, into the low pressure train which is lined up for them.

For their part, We Are Water and One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton continue their progression about fifty miles from each other. Two hundred miles from the equator, the crew of Spirit of Hungary will soon also be in the South Atlantic waters ready to take their turn in the battle with St. Helena.

Quotes:
Stuart Hosford, Director Alex Thomson Racing: “It was at 2102hrs. The guys were both on deck. They were putting the jib top up and taking the J1 off. Alex was up on the foredeck, Pepe was at the mast helping him out. The furling drum, which holds the J2 to the deck and is a fixed stay sheared, the main steel pin in the drum sheared, and so because they were in the middle of changing from the J1 to the J2 there was only one forestay up at that time, for that brief period. That meant the furling drum was unsupported. Alex said that it was like slow motion from there, the mast fell backwards into the water and rested on the stanchions and the daggerboard. At that point the mast broke. And it was gone pretty much immediately. It did not break on the way down. It ended up sitting half in the boat and half out and at that point it broke. There is none of the mast left.
Then they cut the mast free. They are unharmed. That is the most important thing. They called us. We called race direction. We went into crisis mode. We came up with a plan fairly quickly, to start their engine and start motoring towards Brazil. That is what they are currently heading.
They were 370 miles from Salvador de Bahia when they started the engine. Now (1300hrs UTC Thursday) they are 320 miles from Salvador, and they have enough fuel to pretty much get themselves there. We have two crew flying there already. It is an 18 hour flight from here. They will meet them on a tender to bring them into the port.
The boat is undamaged. There is a bent stanchion and a scratch on the coachroof. The boat is secured and seaworthy.

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat):“I have just found out about Hugo Boss. Jean (Le Cam) does not know because he is sleeping now. First and foremost we are sorry for him. And for the race too, I am sorry, because it loses the favourite. We have lost a strong rival and that is sad. From our point of view we try to sail safely so this kind of thing does not happen. But it confirms again not to take risks, 
Otherwise we are always monitoring the progress of Neutrogena because we are not far away from them. 
We still have the anticyclone to get around. But meantime the conditions are similar to the last two days. The sky is a bit more cloudy, with some squalls. It is always warm but the breeze is very, very unstable. Perhaps that is a bit of explanation for Hugo Boss. Last night we had 6 to 24 knots of wind. And so we were trimming all the time. Always we have someone on deck. In the next 24-48 hours we need to avoid being becalmed, trapped by Saint Helena. We must go around it. It is like a circuit we have to go around the inside track. 
Since the start of the South Atlantic we have our little routine. We work shifts in the night, watches, and during the day we try to be together more, we talk. We have not seen many animals and no boats. That is our life, that is racing.

Rankings at 1400hrs UTC Thursday 15th January 2015 
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) at 20712,7 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G Altadill – J Muñoz) + 25,7 miles
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marin)  + 28,3 miles
4 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane)  + 182,7 miles
5 We Are Water (B Garcia – W Garcia) + 414,0 miles
6 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – D Costa) + 461,3 miles
7 Spirit of Hungary (N Fa – C Colman) + 616,5 miles
ABD Hugo Boss (A Thomson-P Ribes)

further updates and quotes on www.barcelonaworldrace.com

Team 11th Hour Racing
Back on the race course, Team 11th Hour begins data capture for 5 Gyres – tracking debris as they race across the Atlantic

Hannah Jenner checks in from the Transat Jacques Vabre race course with an update on marine debris, plastics and not throwing any trash overboard. 

Description: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/3f078fc585e4cb1adae9af7b0/images/fcf4e09fcef7b58d_HANNAHJENNER88fe8d.jpg“I admit it, in January this year I was one of those offshore sailors who threw soda cans, paper, magazines and glass over the side flippantly, taking it for granted that in a couple of weeks the salt water would have taken care of it.  Mother Nature’s own garbage disposal.  Although seeing plastic floating on the water horrified me and I have never been guilty of that, I didn’t really stop to think about what I was doing.  After becoming an ambassador for 11th Hour Racing and competing in the Atlantic Cup – a first of its kind carbon neutral sailing regatta – I began to think about how disrespectful I had been to the ocean despite being immensely passionate about the incredible environment I sail in.  After Rob and I sailed across the Atlantic in June this year throwing no trash over the side at all and making note of the floating garbage we passed it now makes me so angry to think that anyone would find it acceptable to turn our oceans into a wasteland.

Today we began our data collection for 5 Gyres and within minutes we had spotted a plastic bottle and some styrofoam floating on the surface.  Both had marine growth on them enough to suggest that they had been floating around for some time.  Sadly both will still remain drifting somewhere in the ocean for all of my lifetime and that of the next generation and the one after that.  Is that really the legacy that we wish to leave?  I wish I could bring all of you out here to see what an incredibly inspiring place the ocean is.  When you are on a small 40 foot boat watching marine life play in the waves, waves that each possess their own fascinating characteristics and colors, it’s hard to believe that intelligent humans would ever even consider polluting this environment.

It is now against the racing rules of sailing to throw trash over the side and we hope that all competitors in this race will abide by this rule although it is hard to police.  As professional sailors we need to stand up and set an example.  We need to engage the whole sailing community to get involved in data collection for organizations like 5 Gyres and we need to educate about the far reaching effects that a damaged ocean has on life – marine life first and foremost but a polluted ocean ultimately affects all of us sailors and non sailors alike.

So as we push on towards Itaji with our hydrogenerator whirring away and our solar panels backing up the charge we are finding it no trouble at all to leave no carbon footprint and no trail of trash.  So next time you are at sea, near the sea or on the beach just make sure you leave nothing behind that shouldn’t be there.  Trust me the dolphins out here have enough fun playing in the waves they don’t need any ‘dolphin toys’ (floating trash) to play with!”

-Hannah

  • Follow Team 11th Hour’s progress on the course with the online race tracker HERE
  • For more news and information on Team 11th Hour Racing please visit their Facebook page and their Website. Print quality images of Team 11th Hour Racing can be found HERE

About Team 11th Hour Racing: 
British sailor, Hannah Jenner was a member of the winning crew onboard Dorade in the 2013 Transpac and placed 3rd in the 2011 Transat Jacques Vabre.  Long Island, New York native Rob Windsor placed 2nd in the 2011 Atlantic Cup and New York Yacht Club Trans-Atlantic Race. Both have seen the environment change dramatically in their relatively short sailing careers. They recognize that it is their responsibility as sailors to demonstrate good practices and protect the waters they race on so that future generations will be able to enjoy the oceans much like they have.

To build the awareness and raise the profile of environmental challenges within racing, Team 11th Hour Racing are taking on 11 winning solutions that will each contribute to and demonstrate one of the three tenets of their campaign: Cleaner, Faster and Better.  At the conclusion of the 2013 race season Hannah and Rob will embark on a speaking tour to share their experiences and encourage the sailing community to embrace sailing Cleaner, Faster, Better.

40

In the Transat Jacques Vabre double handed race from Le Havre to Itajaí, Brasil the Class 40 BET 1128 Class40 skippered by Gaetano Mura (ITA) and Sam Manuard (FRA) are heading to La Coruna to make running repairs after they broke the swivel hook on their Solent headsail and the mast fell down but did not land in the water.

The duo managed to raise the mast again and carry on but are heading to La Coruna, NW Spain which is about 150 miles downwind for them. They need to repair some electrical cables inside the mast which were damaged and the hook for the Solent.

British skipper Brian Thompson, on Caterham Challenge with co-skipper Mike Gascoyne, reported this morning that they only narrowly missed colliding with BET 1128 which was only a few metres away from them when the incident happened.

Thompson reported:
“We were just behind Bet 1128 when their mast came down directly in front of us. Luckily I was on deck steering and could avoid a collision. Hope the boys onboard are ok.”

2011 Title Defenders
Monohull 60′:
Virbac-Paprec
Jean-Pierre DICK & Jérémie BEYOU
15days 18h 15min 54sec

Multihull 50′:
Actual
Yves LE BLEVEC & Samuel MANUARD
17days 17h 7min 43sec

Class 40′:
Aquarelle.com
Yannick BESTAVEN
& Éric DROUGLAZET
21days 17h 59min 8sec
Follow the race:
Internet
Live tracking updated every 30 minutes.
Race Tracker URL: http://tracking.transat-jacques-vabre.com/en/

Fireworks go off in the city of Lisbon, as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, finish first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by Paul Todd/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Fireworks go off in the city of Lisbon, as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, finish first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by Paul Todd/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi shrugged off seven months of frustration to seal their first offshore victory in a nerve-jarring transatlantic leg from Miami to Lisbon, while Groupama’s second place finish — five and a half minutes behind after more than 3,500 nautical miles racing — was enough to take them top of the leaderboard in place of long-term leaders Telefonica.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Groupama spent days snapping at the heels of the Emirati team and were within a mile of their rivals as they headed up the River Tagus towards the finish line.

Ian Walker’s team defended resolutely, however, matching their rivals gybe for gybe to ensure their first podium finish on an offshore leg would also be their first win, and spark wild celebrations lit up by a booming firework display.

For Groupama, the consolation prize came soon enough, as Telefónica’s finish in fourth place — behind PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG in the third podium slot and just ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand — meant the French team climb above them.

Abu Dhabi, who finished at 21:23:54 UTC, received 30 points for victory, with Groupama netting 25 after their finish at 21:29:21. PUMA took 20 points, Telefonica 15 and CAMPER 10.

Team Sanya finished sixth to pick up five points.

Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, now lead Telefónica by three points overall, with the Spanish team dropping off the lead for the first time since their victory on Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town back in November.

Four teams remain separated by just 21 points, making it the closest contest in the 39-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race with just two offshore legs and three in-port races still to come.

The arrival in Lisbon represented a homecoming for Abu Dhabi, who had a training base in nearby Cascais during the build-up to the race.

“It’s incredible — what a welcome,” said Walker, before he and Emirati crew member Adil Khalid were chucked into the water by their team mates.

“Do you think you can make the last 10 miles of a race any harder than that?

“It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career, that’s for sure. Mentally, certainly I’m exhausted. It’s just such a relief.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate finishing first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate finishing first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi also visited Lisbon in much less happy circumstances during Leg 1, after a dismasting within the first few hours ultimately forced them to ship the boat from Lisbon to Cape Town.

While they have notched up three victories in in-port races, and have a strong chance of winning the series, this is the first time they have really been able to shine in an offshore leg.

First Groupama and then Telefónica enjoyed the lead for long spells on a leg that started out looking like a fast, direct sprint across the Atlantic before the effects of Tropical Storm Alberto altered things drastically.

One by one, the boats were forced to head ever further north towards the ice exclusion zone.

Abu Dhabi moved into the lead on Day 6 and after briefly surrendering it to CAMPER they were back ahead the following day.

Two days later they were clear, though skipper Ian Walker warned repeatedly that a light-air zone inside the final 300 nautical miles would see the fleet compress.

That’s exactly how it turned out, with Abu Dhabi forced to scrap every step of the way to an emotional victory at the team’s second home.

“It came down to the wire, and we certainly had our ups and downs, but we are very happy,” said Groupama skipper Franck Cammas. “it was a good operation for us!”

Third place for PUMA kept them in contention for the overall lead, 12 points behind new leaders Groupama.

“This is a great result,” said the team’s American skipper Ken Read. “There’s still a lot of points on the board and to be on the podium is a big deal for us.”

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain visits Team Telefonica in the Lisbon Race Village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain visits Team Telefonica in the Lisbon Race Village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

The battle between Telefónica and CAMPER for fourth and fifth came down to a slow-motion tussle over an excruciating final few miles, with no breeze and the current against them.

Telefónica eventually finished with an advantage of 102 seconds and less than a boat length for a five-point boost that could yet prove crucial.

The action resumes with the In-Port Race on June 9, followed by the start of Leg 8 to Lorient the following day.

Leg 7 results:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 11d, 04h, 23m, 54s

2. Groupama sailing team – 11d, 04h, 29m, 21s

3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG – 11d, 06h, 26m, 52s

4. Team Telefónica – 11d, 08h, 28m, 27s

5. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand – 11d, 08h, 30m, 09s

6. Team Sanya – 11d, 08h, 44m, 25s

Overall        Leg 7    Total
1            Groupama sailing team    25    183
2            Team Telefónica    15    180
3            PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG    20    171
4            CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ    10    162
5            Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing    30    104
6            Team Sanya    5    32

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, passes a spectator boat, during the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, passes a spectator boat, during the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing launched an 11th hour comeback in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race to take their tally of in-shore successes to three, while Groupama scored a strong second to pile the pressure on overall race leaders Telefónica.

Ian Walker’s crew were rewarded for sailing a near-perfect race on Saturday when they snatched the lead from Groupama on the penultimate leg and went on to seal a dramatic victory.

Although they were pipped at the post, Groupama’s result moves them to within just seven points of Telefónica, who had yet more in-port disappointment when a penalty for touching one of the turning marks relegated them to last place.

In a thrilling finale, PUMA came from behind to rocket past CAMPER into third just metres from the finish line.

It was a fourth successive podium finish in the in-shore series for Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew, and it brought them to within a point of third-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on the overall scoreboard.

Team Sanya, the only team not racing in a new generation boat, were unlucky not to finish higher up the leaderboard, having to settle for fifth after a brave battle with their rivals.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

“It feels great,” said a jubilant Abu Dhabi skipper Walker moments after crossing the finish line.

“We’ve had a tough time of it. We had no time at all to prepare for the last in-port race and we made a special point of having two full days’ training here. We wanted to show the world that Abu Dhabi hasn’t given up. We’re a good team, we’re determined, and it feels great to win a race.”

With the Volvo Ocean Race entering a critical stage with just three offshore legs and three in-port races left, just 14 points split the top four boats.

Telefónica still lead with 165 points but snapping at their heels are Groupama on 158, while CAMPER and PUMA are dangerously close on 152 and 151 respectively, bolstered by the results of the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race.

In a nail-biting contest peppered with position changes, Abu Dhabi capitalised on a strong start along with Sanya but it was Telefónica who led round the first mark, showing off their blistering speed on Leg 1.

The action couldn’t have been any more intense with Abu Dhabi and Groupama overhauling Telefónica on Leg 2. Meanwhile, after paying the price for heading offshore, CAMPER and PUMA were left desperately chasing the frontrunners.

While the front two stretched their lead, a fierce battle for third developed, climaxing on Leg 6 with Telefónica hitting the mark and the rest of the fleet piling in behind.

Telefónica were penalised by the on-the-water umpires, adding to their in-port misery and ending their hopes of consolidating their overall lead.

Sniffing a chance to pick up crucial points, PUMA, CAMPER and Sanya put pedal to metal and launched an extraordinary comeback that brought them back in touch with then leaders Groupama and second-placed Abu Dhabi with just a few legs left.

Abu Dhabi’s defining moment came when they hoisted a bigger sail than their French rivals, making the most of the smallest of speed advantages to pass Groupama despite having to dodge a spectator boat.

With the breeze fading, race officials chose to shorten the course and Abu Dhabi hung on to claim the win, all the more sweet due to the fact that just a few weeks ago their stricken boat Azzam was on a container ship en route to Brazil.

The sailors and shore crews are now turning their sights on the final preparations for 3,580 nautical mile Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, starting on Sunday at 1700 UTC (1300 local time).

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

PORTMIAMI In-Port Race results:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 74:09
2. Groupama sailing team, +00:33
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, +02:02
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, +02:11 
5. Team Sanya, +2:35
6. Team Telefónica, +6:28

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA chases down CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, to take third place in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA chases down CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, to take third place in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing  (Photo by George Bekris)

PUMA Ocean Racing (Photo by George Bekris)

Ken Read and The PUMA Ocean Racing Powered By BERG team win Leg 6,American skipper Ken Read led his PUMA team to a second consecutive leg win on Wednesday, arriving on home soil in Miami triumphant following an epic 17-day match race with closest rivals CAMPER to confirm they are back in contention for overall victory.

Since the heartbreak of the first leg, in which their yacht Mar Mostro dismasted, PUMA have been on the up – and after scoring their first offshore success in Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí, Brazil, they made it two in two with glory in Leg 6.

After coming off best in an intense battle for first place with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who at one point closed the gap to less than a mile, Read said his team were back in the fight for the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 trophy.

“That was about as stressful as it can get, believe me,” Read said. “It was touch and go, and the guys on CAMPER sailed very well, but I couldn’t be more proud of our team — they did an unbelievably great job.”

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crossed the finish line at 18:14:00 UTC, 17 days after leaving from Itajaí, Brazil, with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand around an hour behind PUMA and on course to take second.

PUMA Ocean Racing first into Miami (Photo by Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing first into Miami (Photo by Ian Roman /Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA dominated the 4,800 nautical mile leg from the start, only surrendering the lead on two occasion to CAMPER and for no more than 48 hours.

A fast start to the leg in fresh conditions saw PUMA lead out of Itajaí and into several days of fast sailing up the Brazilian coast.

As winds eased the fleet split into three groups, with CAMPER and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing closest to the shore enjoying two days at the head of the pack, while Team Telefónica and Groupama sailing team opted to head east in search of better breeze. PUMA split the difference and it paid as they got a jump on their rivals that would lay the foundations for their eventual win.

With the south-east trade winds providing near-perfect conditions for the Volvo Open 70s, a drag race began up to the Equator and through the Doldrums, which presented little problem for the fleet. But 10 days into racing, PUMA were nearly undone by storm clouds which stalled the leaders, allowing CAMPER and Telefónica to reel them in to just six miles.

Into the Caribbean Sea they enjoyed fast sailing once more until they hit tricky weather systems that once again saw the leading boats compress. Despite coming under fire from CAMPER right up until the very last minute, faultless sailing saw PUMA defend their lead to claim the win.

PUMA Ocean Racing Crosses the Leg 6 Finish line in Miani, USA (Photo by Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing Crosses the Leg 6 Finish line in Miani, USA (Photo by Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race)

It’s the fourth time in six legs that PUMA have finished on the podium, and they pick up an invaluable 30 points for the leg win to take their overall tally to 147.

CAMPER will be awarded 25 points for second place, their best result in the offshore series since Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi when they finished second behind Team Telefónica.

“It’s been a long leg and PUMA have sailed very nicely, they have defended very well, but I think we have attacked well too,” CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson said as his team closed in on the finish line. “I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone. We’re in better shape now for the next leg.”

Both teams will close the gap on overall leaders Telefónica, who were still scrapping it out for the final podium position with Groupama sailing team.

The current ETA for the arrival of Groupama and Telefónica is 0300 UTC, with fifth-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing expected to arrive at 0800 UTC.

 

eg 6
09/05/2012 18:23:56 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 PUMA FIN 017d 01h 13m 59s
2 CMPR 0.00 7 12 9.2
3 GPMA 55.20 9 16 64.4
4 TELE 65.10 9 15 74.3
5 ADOR 135.70 9 14 144.9
SNYA Did Not Start
 All hands on deck during a sail change onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6  (Photo by Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)

All hands on deck during a sail change onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6 (Photo by Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

A trough of low pressure blocking the fleet’s path brought light winds on Friday and a tactical split in the trio at the front. Leaders PUMA have stuck doggedly to their north easterly course, while CAMPER and Telefónica gybed to the west in search of stronger winds closer to the Caribbean Islands.

By 1200 UTC today Team Telefónica had resumed a northerly track, putting pressure on CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who must decide to follow suit or press on with a higher risk westerly strategy.

With up to 30 hours of slow sailing likely before the leaders break through into steadier winds, the pressure is well and truly on for the skippers and navigators on the top three boats.

Rome Kirby and Shannon Falcone share grinding responsibilities for the spinnaker trim, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 (Photo by Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Rome Kirby and Shannon Falcone share grinding responsibilities for the spinnaker trim, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 (Photo by Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG navigator Tom Addis said leading into such a scenario was always tricky as it raised the threat of being caught by the boats behind, but was nevertheless confident in the short term strategy.

“A front has come through to the north and disturbed the trade winds so we’ve all compressed again,” Addis said. “It is unfortunate for us but it’s just how it goes.

“It’s hard to say when the breeze will pick up again. We’ve still got about 10 knots of breeze but it’s going to be a good day and a half before we’re into decent breeze again.

“When the wind goes light and you compress, especially for a good solid day, anything can happen. If someone gets a squall and picks up some wind for a few hours that could easily turn the fleet inside out.

“That makes things more tense on board, no question.”

Addis said PUMA’s current plan was to skirt around the eastern side of the Caribbean to avoid the additional threat of wind shadows in the lee of the island chain.

“The next 1,000 miles is going to be pretty light and tricky and it’s going to be ‘heart in the mouth’ stuff for the majority of the rest of the leg,” he said.

“We think we’ve got a solid plan and most likely we’ll go round the outside of the Caribbean islands,” he said. “Through the Caribbean there’s plenty of water but it’s fraught with lees.

“Those islands are very tall and they create big wind shadows so you’ve got to be very careful going through them.”

On second placed CAMPER, Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper said the mood was equally tense with skipper Chris Nicholson and navigator Will Oxley spending long hours together at the navigation station, deliberating on the best plan.

“It is certain to be a nerve-wracking few days for sure,” Hooper said.

“It has been said from the start that this last 1,000 miles will be where the leg is won and lost, and it’s looking about as tricky as tricky can be, with light fickle breezes throughout.

“It’s a maze. One boat will come out looking famous and it could be one of any of the five boats in the fleet.

Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race Zane Gills on the bow preparing for a sail change, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.( Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)

Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race Zane Gills on the bow preparing for a sail change, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.( Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race).

“Abu Dhabi and Groupama who are still 100 miles behind are still right in this leg and in fact they are in the sometimes enviable position of having nothing to lose, so able to throw caution to the wind and take a gamble.”

Telefónica navigator Andrew Cape described the final push to the finish as “a bit touch and go”.

“There’s going to be a lot of changes, put it that way,” Cape added. “It’s going to be a tricky one. There’s going to be opportunities both ways but certainly the team that gets it right will be the winner.”

Cape said he was happy with the Spanish team’s positioning at this point but said there would be plenty of other key decisions to agonise over before the finish.

“We’re where we wanted to be, but this is the very first stage of about 25 that we need to get right,” he said.

At 1300 UTC PUMA still led the fleet, from CAMPER in second, Team Telefónica in third, Groupama sailing team in fourth and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in fifth.

Latest estimates show the leading boats arriving in Miami on or around midday on May 9.

Sailing backwards to remove seaweed, onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Photo by Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

Sailing backwards to remove seaweed, onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Photo by Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

 

PUMA Ocean Racing (Photo by Amory Ross/ PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

UMA Ocean Racing (Photo by Amory Ross/ PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 6 leaders PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG have today bought themselves some valuable miles against their closest challengers, Team Telefónica and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, after the chasing duo closed to within two miles yesterday.

PUMA made the best of a move by the top three boats towards the Brazilian coast over the last 24 hours, picking up assistance from northerly currents and a zone of wind acceleration closer to the shore to pull out a lead of 30 nautical miles (nm) at 1000 UTC today over second placed Telefónica.

After spending most of Sunday with their hearts in their mouths watching both CAMPER and Telefónica close them down, the PUMA crew — headed by American skipper Ken Read — saw their speed rocket close to 20 knots after passing the latitude of Fortaleza to the north east of Brazil.

PUMA crossed the Equator at 0840 UTC — their fourth and final crossing of this edition of the race — and must now protect their lead through the Doldrums, a band of fickle breezes located around 100 nm north.

Full crew weight aft in a tight battle with Team Telefonica, onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Photo by Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Full crew weight aft in a tight battle with Team Telefonica, onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA (Photo by Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/ Volvo Ocean Race) .

Telefónica and CAMPER both crossed the Equator at 0910 UTC in second and third respectively.

Back in fourth, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crossed the Equator at 1155 UTC having closed to within just over 40 nm of CAMPER despite sailing in different breezes for most of the last few days.

Craig Satterwaite finishing his shower up forward, onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Photo by Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Craig Satterwaite finishing his shower up forward, onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Photo by Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Skipper Ian Walker said that with around 100 nm to run to the Doldrums the Emirati team were preparing themselves “for a bit of action later today.”

“It’s been a difficult day or two,” Walker said. “We just generally seem to be sailing in less wind than everyone else.

“We made quite a nice gain towards the end of yesterday on CAMPER and Telefónica so we’re just trying to hang on to them as best we can and hope something opens up.”

Walker said he hoped to be able to make further gains to get within striking distance of the leaders later in the leg when the fleet will engage in a 1,000 nm trade wind drag race to the Caribbean.

“Generally we’re losing a couple of miles per sked but then we’re always in a lot less wind. Hopefully we’ll have made up that distance in the next few days,” he said.

With any Doldrums crossing generally throwing up opportunities for the boats playing catch up, Walker said he was hopeful of making gains on the leaders soon after the Equator.

“All we have to go on is models and satellite pictures which might not necessarily tell the right story,” Walker said. “It’s still the Doldrums, there could still be a period of the boats slowing down and a lot of storm activity depending on what time of the day you get there.

“I’m sure something’s going to happen but relative to the Doldrums we’ve seen in the race so far it looks reasonably inactive. Maybe we’ll just sail straight through and hook into the north east trades and be off.

“We’ve got to prepare for anything,” Walker said.

At 1300 UTC today PUMA’s lead was 31 nm over second placed Team Telefónica who were 9 nm ahead of CAMPER in third.

Abu Dhabi remained in fourth 48 nm behind CAMPER with Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team in fifth, 142 nm off the lead.

The leading boats are expected to complete Leg 6 from Itajaí to Miami on or around May 9.

 DTL DTLC BS DTF
1   PUMA 0.00  0 19.2 2612.1
2   TELE 30.70  1 19.6 2642.8
3   CMPR 39.70  4 18.1 2651.8
4   ADOR 86.50  10 15.8 2698.6
5   GPMA 141.70  14 14.6 2753.7
–   SNYA Did Not Start

 

 

Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Sunrise onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
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Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Bowman Zane Gills adjusting the sail, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
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Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
Full crew weight aft in a tight battle with Team Telefonica, onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
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Bowman Zane Gills adjusting the sail, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Diego Fructuoso/ Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)

Bowman Zane Gills adjusting the sail, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Diego Fructuoso/ Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)