PUMA and Telefonica Engage In Close-Quarter Combat

Old foes Telefónica and PUMA have reengaged in a close-quarter combat that was cut short when Mar Mostro dismasted in Leg 1. There is now less than three nautical miles separating the rivals in second and third place behind Leg 2 leaders Groupama sailing team.
By stealth, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG’s skipper Ken Read guided his team into second place overnight, edging in front of Team Telefónica by the smallest of margins by daybreak.

At 0700 UTC today PUMA’s Mar Mostro was just 2.7 nautical miles ahead of Telefónica, having increased the margin from the 0.3 nm that separated the two at 0400 UTC.

Iker Martínez’s Telefónica is marginally further west than PUMA, with 30 nm between them. However, both have maintained almost identical speeds overnight, averaging about 16 knots, with Telefónica clocking up 393 nm in 24 hours, and PUMA 396 nm.

PUMA’s Media Crew Member Amory Ross described conditions as repetitive on the “straight-line drag race” to the Doldrums, where teams are tipping that the unpredictable conditions will create another start line.

“Here we are, smashing along on starboard tack, upwind, in the same breeze, the same waves, and the same sails that we’ve had since we first tacked north a few days ago,’’ Ross said.

“Man, is it repetitive! But the boat is going well and we’re enjoying one heck of a straight-line drag race to the Doldrums, which is where things start to change quickly.”

The match-racing scenario is eerily similar to that which the pair engaged in during the Leg 1 race in the Atlantic. The pair shadowed each other for days, before the joust was cut short by PUMA’s dismasting.

Meanwhile, Groupama sailing team continue to hold firm on their lead, more than 70 nm ahead of the fleet on a more westerly course.

The steady winds and hot sailing angle in the west have given Franck Cammas’ French team increased boat speed, averaging two knots more than their rivals.

But as the fleet nears the Doldrums they are funnelling in on a much closer course, with the distance between Groupama and the fleet in the east halving to just 60 nautical miles overnight.

Telefónica’s Media Crew member Diego Fructuoso said his team were keeping a close eye on Groupama’s position, and remained hopeful that they could still challenge for the lead.

“We are hoping to go well and catch them later,” he said. “The others are really close, we are fighting all the time.”

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand remain in fourth position, followed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in fifth.